First case of Omicron variant confirmed in Vermont –

Christine Soychak, who works at the local high school, left, prepares to perform a rapid antigen Covid-19 test on a student at the Enosburgh Public Safety Building on Friday. The Vermont Department of Health announced the first confirmed case of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 on Saturday. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

Vermont’s first case of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 was confirmed on Saturday, the state Department of Health announced.

The specimen was collected on Dec. 8 from a patient in their 30s in Lamoille County, according to a health department press release. That individual was fully vaccinated and had been experiencing mild symptoms, according to the release.

The findings were not unexpected and “we will see more cases identified in the coming days,” Health Commissioner Mark Levine said in the release.

Global research indicates that the Omicron variant spreads faster and more efficiently than Delta, the current dominant strain, the health department said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expects that anyone who contracts Omicron can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms. Scientists continue to research the severity of illness connected to Omicron and the effectiveness of vaccines against it.

The health department urged Vermonters to get vaccinated and get their booster shots, citing the likelihood that Omicron would become the dominant strain in the coming months.

“As the effectiveness of the initial vaccines begin to wane, boosters provide the protection you need against bad outcomes, including serious illness, hospitalizations and death, especially for people whose age or health conditions make them vulnerable,” Levine said.

The announcement comes a day after Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger announced on Friday that the city had detected “very limited” mutation signatures associated with Omicron in its wastewater, signaling it was likely present there. Following the announcement, Levine said the first case of Omicron could be confirmed “in a matter of days.”

“I can’t emphasize this enough: All Vermonters need to be as protected as possible, as soon as possible. So get vaccinated, get children age 5 and older vaccinated, and if you are due to get your booster shot, get it as soon as you can,” Levine said. 

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