Thinking about getting omicron on purpose to build immunity?
Many health experts now say at some point or another, almost everyone in New Jersey and across the nation will wind up getting some form of COVID.
Because the omicron variant tends to produce more mild symptoms than other forms of COVID, some New Jerseyans have been talking about trying to get infected on purpose- to build immunity from the virus.
The experts warn this is a bad idea.
Don't do it
Infectious disease expert Dr. Meg Fisher, an advisor to state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli, said while some people who get omicron do have mild symptoms, we can’t predict which people are going to be the ones to get severe and significant illness.
“We know that some people are at higher risk but that doesn’t mean just because you’re a health young adult, that your course is going to be a benign easy course,” she said.
Dr. Fisher said omicron is a tricky variant.
“Yes many people will have mild disease but we’re also seeing many people end up in the hospital, we’re seeing some of them end up in the intensive care unit, and yes we are seeing deaths from the omicron variant,” she said.
She pointed out even if you’re extremely healthy with a robust immune system, if you get omicron “you may get seriously ill, you may get an infection with a bacteria at the same time, we just can’t predict those things.”
What should you do?
Dr. Fisher said the ideal “is you want to prevent getting any coronavirus infection, any of the SARS-CoV 2 viruses, and the best way to do that is to get vaccinated and get boosted.”
She also strongly recommends wearing a mask indoors, and maintaining social distancing when possible.
She stressed even though omicron is extremely contagious, surgical masks, which are readily available in almost all the stores, work well to stop the transmission of COVID.
“Are they as perfect as an N95, no, but they’ve been shown in multiple studies to decrease transmission in a household setting, and in other settings,” she said.
Dr. Fisher noted some cloth masks, depending how tight the fabric is, can also be quite protective for you and those around.
She said wearing a mask can also decrease the amount of viral load transmitted from one person to another, and this also can play a role in how sick someone may or may not become if they get infected with COVID.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.