First two cases of COVID-19 omicron variant reported in Bexar County, health officials say

The first two known cases of the COVID-19 omicron variant have been detected in Bexar County, and local health officials are urging the public to get vaccinated.

The cases were discovered through genome testing at UT Health San Antonio, which is funded by San Antonio Metropolitan Health District and the Texas Department of State Health Services.

“Metro Health has been monitoring this situation the past few weeks as it has been unfolding around the globe, so we expected to see cases in Bexar County eventually,” said Claude A. Jacob, director of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District. “Vaccination continues to be the best defense and protection against COVID-19. We recommend that individuals who are not vaccinated do so as soon as possible to help protect themselves from the omicron variant.”

Dr. Marjorie David, director of the Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory at UT Health San Antonio, said the omicron variant samples were collected from patients on Nov. 27 and Dec. 7. They were then sequenced from the UT Health San Antonio laboratory, as well as at University Health and Community Labs, David said.

Local health officials says vaccination and limiting exposure are the best way to fight against the spread of the coronavirus.

“As we continue to learn more from the rapidly evolving situation around the omicron variant, it is important to remember that vaccination and practices that limit potential exposure are still the best way for people to protect themselves and others from any COVID-19 variant,” said Dr. Bryan Alsip, executive vice president and chief medical officer for University Health.

Metro Health says early reports indicate that the omicron variant causes milder symptoms than the other variants, and vaccination protects against severe illness or death. It recommends full vaccination and a booster for anyone who is eligible to receive a shot.

The department says one in three people in San Antonio are still not fully vaccinated.

The Alamodome drive-thru clinic is open from noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday to Friday for anyone seeking a vaccine, whether it be their initial dose or booster. Click here to find a full list of Metro Health vaccination sites.

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