Health Experts Warn Against Ignoring These Covid-19 Omicron Symptoms

It seems like every time we think we have turned a corner in defeating the coronavirus, a new variant rears its ugly head. The Omicron Covid-19 variant, which is believed to have originated in South Africa, has now been detected in more than 19 states in the U.S. While researchers continue to study the seriousness of Omicron, health experts have come up with a list of symptoms that accompany the new variant, and warn that people should not ignore them, or mistake them for those of a common cold.

Too Soon To Tell

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Omicron variant to be a concern last month. As scientists continue to research this version of Covid, they have seen some similarities between it and the common cold, but so far, all experts are sure of is that the genetic makeup of the Omicron variant is different from other Covid-19 strains. They believe that it is not as severe as the Delta variant, but health officials say it is too soon to tell if Omicron infections are milder than those of other forms of the coronavirus. There are, though, some symptoms that health officials say people should take seriously if they experience them.

Omicron Symptoms

Two of the major symptoms that have been seen in those who have contracted Omicron are fatigue and body aches: in fact, with this variant, people have reported being fatigued over other Covid symptoms, such as loss of taste and smell. Symptoms can be different among infected individuals, but so far what has been noted is that symptoms are milder, and include:caucasian woman in bed grabbing her neck in pain

  • Pain across different muscle groups
  • Feeling extremely tired or fatigued
  • Scratchy throat
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Respiratory failure
  • Body chills
  • Shortness of breath
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Researchers and doctors note that the range of symptoms depends on the person’s vaccination status, age, and health history. Unvaccinated people can experience more severe symptoms.

Omicron Is Spreading Fastred virus with a network of connections around it

So far, from what has been seen over the last month and a half, the Omicron variant seems to spread at a faster rate than past variants. Researchers speculate this might be due to how the virus’ protein has mutated. “Estimates based on experience in South Africa allow scientists to postulate that the Omicron variant is at least three times more infectious than original versions of SARS-CoV-2,” says Dr. Nicholas Kman, M.D., an emergency medicine physician at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center “It may be possibly more contagious than the Delta variant, though [Delta] remains the dominant strain in the U.S., so it’s unclear if this is the case.”

In the meantime, doctors and health officials continue to urge Americans to get vaccinated to best protect themselves from Covid and its variants.

Will You Need Booster Shots? Moderna Tests Vaccine Longevity.

The Covid-19 vaccines have been available in the U.S. for around 9 months, and researchers are continuing to study their effectiveness, specifically questioning how long the protection they offer will actually last. And now, a recent analysis conducted by Moderna, who makes one of the two mRNA Covid-19 vaccines, has shown that the effectiveness of the vaccine decreases as time goes by. In fact, according to the study, people who got the shot last year are twice as likely to contract the virus as people who recently got the shot. Moderna is hoping that this new data will lead to approval of a third-dose booster shot for those who received the original two-shot dose.

The Study

illustration of a woman in a lab coat looking through a microscope

The trial conducted over the summer by Moderna, labeled the 3 COVE Study, compared participants who received the vaccine between July 1, 2021 and August 27, 2021 to participants who got it between July 2020 and October 2020. Analysis of the data revealed that people who had recently received the vaccine had a lower risk of breakthrough infection than people who had been vaccinated last year. Specifically, “88 breakthrough cases of COVID-19 out of 11,431 people vaccinated occurred in the more recently vaccinated group (49.0 cases per 1000 person-years) compared to 162 cases out of 14,746 participants in the group vaccinated last year (77.1 cases per 1000 person-years).”

The study found that people who were vaccinated last year had a 50% higher rate of symptomatic breakthrough cases during the months of July and August compared to those who had received the vaccination later. And of those who received the vaccine more recently, there were no hospitalizations or deaths, compared to the 3 Covid-19 related hospitalizations of the earlier group, which resulted in 2 deaths.

“There’s a large debate, we all know, about whether or not vaccine boosters are going to be necessary in the fall,” Moderna President Stephen Hoge said. “That debate, what makes it really hard is it’s not really about whether the vaccine worked last month. It’s really about whether it’s going to work this winter.”

Is There a Need For A Booster Shot?

When the study and its data was presented, Moderna CEO Staphane Bancel stated that it proves the need for a booster shot. person receiving a shot in their arm

“It is promising to see clinical and real-world evidence adding to the growing body of data on the effectiveness of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine,” Bancel said. “The increased risk of breakthrough infections in COVE study participants who were vaccinated last year compared to more recently illustrates the impact of waning immunity and supports the need for a booster to maintain high levels of protection.”

Currently, the White House’s plan is for people to get a third dose 8 months after their second shot of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. However, multiple scientists from the World Health Organization and 2 FDA officials claim it is “not appropriate” to widely distribute booster shots to the general public just yet.

The FDA Fully Approves The Pfizer Covid Vaccine, Opening the Door to More Vaccine Requirements

On August 23, 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted full approval for the first Covid-19 vaccine, known as the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The two-dose vaccine, which up until that date was under Emergency Use Authorization, has been formally approved for use in people ages 16 and older; now that it has been fully approved, President Biden is urging unvaccinated Americans to get the shots. And not only will this new status hopefully entice more people to get the vaccine, but it will also empower businesses and universities to require people to be vaccinated. 2 shot viles with needles next to themThe Pfizer vaccine was first granted Emergency Use Authorization in December 2020, and so far almost 170 million Americans have been fully vaccinated, and about 30 million have gotten at least one of the two doses. The FDA has been continuing its research on the vaccine, and has been able to study its efficacy in the real world, concluding that it is safe and 91% effective. The vaccine will be marketed under the name Comirnaty, and remains under Emergency Use Authorization for people between 12 and 16 years old.

Now, with the number of Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths among the unvaccinated skyrocketing, President Biden is hoping to convince people who have been hesitant to get the vaccine that it is time to roll up their sleeves: “If you’re one of the millions of Americans who said that they will not get the shot until it has full and final approval of the FDA: It has now happened,” he said. “The moment you’ve been waiting for is here.”

Requirements Among Businesses

President Biden has called the approval “a key milestone in our nation’s fight against Covid.” He then urged business owners and others in leadership positions to require the vaccine.

man's hand holding a phone with a vaccination code on the screen
Federal and private employers, including NY and NJ schools, are requiring employees to get vaccinated and show proof of vaccination, or face termination.

“I’m calling on more companies in the private sector to step up with vaccine requirements that will reach millions more people,” Biden said in remarks at the White House. “If you’re a business leader, a nonprofit leader, a state or local leader, who has been waiting for full FDA approval to require vaccinations, I call on you now to do that — require it. It only makes sense to require a vaccine to stop the spread of Covid-19.”

As of now, the federal government and some private employers are requiring workers to show proof of vaccination. In addition, on Monday, August 23, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that all public school employees will be required to have at least their first shot by September 27. New Jersey’s governor Phil Murphy followed suit and also announced on Monday that vaccination for all teachers and other staff will be required by October 17. These states are currently joining 4 other states that have already done the same: Washington, California, Connecticut and Oregon.

The Pentagon is also planning to make the vaccine mandatory for the U.S. military. The Defense Department “is prepared to issue updated guidance, requiring all service members to be vaccinated,” Pentagon spokesman John F. Kirby confirmed in a press briefing. “A timeline for vaccination completion will be provided in the coming days.”

So far businesses like Google, Netflix, Facebook, The Washington Post, and Morgan Stanley are requiring vaccines for their employees. And if you want to travel, get ready to show your card: Carnival Cruise Line has tightened its vaccine mandate, requiring all passengers to be vaccinated, except children under 12 and adults with medical conditions, and many are speculating that other forms of travel might require proof of vaccination in the future.

Legalities Concerning The Requirements

Legal challenges are expected, and there are already some lawsuits being filed across the country. Employees of some businesses and even hospitals that are requiring employees to get vaccinated or be terminated, such as Houston’s Methodist Hospital, where 150 nurses were let go or resigned for refusing to get the vaccine, are the subject of some of the lawsuits. So far employees have been unsuccessful in challenging the vaccine requirements: courts are leaning towards the 1905 Supreme Court case Jacobson V. Massachusetts, in which the court decreed that states can require the smallpox vaccine. Businesses, though, might have to allow exemptions for vaccine requirements for religious beliefs and medical conditions.

Unvaccinated? Be Prepared To Pay More For Health Insurance

While President Biden had a goal of getting 70% of Americans vaccinated by July 4th, the vaccination rate in the U.S. is still only around 60% for those ages 12 and up. That means we are currently unable to reach herd immunity; not only that, but the Delta variant of the virus is spreading rapidly, causing another wave of the pandemic, with hospitals in certain areas again being overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients. And despite many companies offering Americans incentives to get the vaccine, many unvaccinated people still won’t get the free shot – but refusing to roll up your sleeve could soon start affecting your wallet.

Growing Speculation

paper with the words risk assessment on the top and a pen on the paper
Just as health insurance companies can charge smokers more for being more risky, they can do the same for unvaccinated people.

Health insurance companies have always reserved the right to deny coverage to or charge more for people who partake in risky behavior, such as rock climbing or smoking – in fact, some insurance companies even charge tobacco users up to 50% more for plans than what nonsmokers pay. Now there is speculation that insurance companies might penalize those who are unvaccinated by charging them higher premiums.

What is the reasoning behind the surcharge? Insurance companies argue that an unvaccinated person not only risks getting sick themselves, but can also infect others, leading to expensive medical bills; to help cover those extra costs, insurance companies feel that unvaccinated people should pay higher premiums for engaging in what they see as risky behavior. Experts speculate that insurers haven’t started raising rates for unvaccinated people yet because the vaccine is still only authorized for emergency use and has not yet received full approval from the FDA. 

Employer Mandates

The low vaccination rates in some areas of the country are also causing problems for employers, and so many have been offering incentives to employees to encourage them to get vaccinated. On the other hand, some are considering penalizing employees, and are looking to charge them anywhere from $20-$50 more per paycheck for health insurance.

$20 dollar bill underneath a $50 bill
Employers can penalize unvaccinated employees by charging them $20-$50 more per paycheck for health insurance.

“Because of the emergence of the Delta variant and because vaccination levels have stalled out with employers, they’re trying to take some more ‘stick’-type measures rather than the incentive,” said Wade Symons, a partner at Mercer Health, a benefits consulting firm. “They’re looking for something that’s going to move the needle, and they’re looking at a surcharge as a potential option for that.” 

Employers see these measures as not just a way to get employees vaccinated, but a move to help them save money. “Unvaccinated individuals have potential to cost the employer more from a health care spend perspective,” Symons told CBS MoneyWatch. “They could get Covid and incur expensive hospital costs up to $50,000 for an individual with a tough Covid case.” 

Once the vaccine gains full approval from the FDA, employers can make the vaccine mandatory. 

Both health insurance companies and employers who contribute to health insurance premiums want to save money, so in a push to get more people vaccinated, the time will most likely come when they make people who refuse to get the vaccine pay more in premiums. As of now, surcharges are only being talked about, but once the vaccine gets fully approved, they could become reality.

Biden & Health Experts Warn the Delta Covid-19 Variant Could Be Dangerous

Just as we thought we were nearing the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, a new variant of the virus has been detected in the U.S., causing more panic and infecting more people. The Delta Covid-19 variant is very worrisome to health experts, who fear that it could be more dangerous for younger people who are waiting to get vaccinated, or who will not get vaccinated at all. The arrival of this deadly new variant could mean more spikes in cases this fall, unless more Americans get vaccinated.

The Delta Covid-19 Variant

person sneezing with red viruses spreading out
Studies suggest that the Delta variant is 60% more transmissible than the Alpha variant.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky expects the Delta variant, which was first identified in India, to eventually become the dominant variant in the United States, because studies suggest it is around 60% more transmissible than the Alpha variant, the variant first identified in the United Kingdom. Within the last two weeks, the Delta variant has represented more than 20% of Covid-19 infections in the U.S., which is double what it was when the CDC last reported on its prevalence.

“Is the virus different? It is different, the Delta variant is much more likely to infect younger people…The fact that it catches all those people that aren’t vaccinated and it’s more likely to put them in the hospital, is a concern. We are paying more attention because the older folks are more highly vaccinated and we are seeing more of what there is of the disease occurring in the younger population.” said Kristiana McLarty, a third-year medical student at Morehouse School of Medicine.

Because of the seriousness of the Delta variant, the Biden Administration is urging more Americans to get vaccinated; while the White House acknowledges that they will not meet their goal of vaccinating 70% of all American adults by July 4, they are still hoping people will step up to fight this new variant.

“The Delta variant is currently the greatest threat in the U.S. to our attempt to eliminate Covid-19. We seem to be following the pattern with the Delta variant, with a doubling time of about two weeks,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said at a White House briefing on the virus. “Good news: Our vaccines are effective against the Delta variant.”

What To Expect This Fallgraph with a line moving upwards with red viruses in the background

Currently, infections and deaths from Covid-19 are at their lowest rates since the start of the pandemic, averaging roughly 11,000 new infections and fewer than 300 deaths per day. The falling numbers have meant more states opening up and lifting mask mandates, but this could all change come fall if more people do not get vaccinated. As it is, experts are currently expecting a surge in cases this winter, since data shows that the rate of vaccination greatly slowed down after vaccines became more available. Some states, including Arizona and Missouri, are already witnessing a spike in Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths, largely among people who are not vaccinated. 

According to Ali Mokdad, MD, professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington, 80-85% of Americans will have to be vaccinated by the end of the year to prevent a surge in cases, but that level of vaccination does not seem likely. As of now, only 16 states have reached the Biden administration’s goal of 70% of adults receiving at least one dose by July 4, and only around 50% of the total adult  population has received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to CDC data.

Tempting Incentives to Get the Covid-19 Vaccine

When Covid-19 vaccines began to roll out last year, it seemed to many people like we would never have enough to go around. Now, though, with almost 62.8% of American adults having received at least one dose of the shot, and 133.6 million fully vaccinated, the problem is no longer a shortage of supply, but a shortage of people taking the remaining doses. In order to help meet President Biden’s goal of having at least 70% of U.S. adults vaccinated by July 4, state politicians, restaurants, health insurance companies, and more are giving away freebies and other incentives to entice people to get the shot. Some of these incentives are very tempting reasons to get vaccinated, including a chance to get free gift cards, food, scholarships, alcohol, and even free money! 

Yummy Foodone glazed donut

In March 2021, Krispy Kreme set off the wave of vaccine incentives in the food industry by announcing they would offer a free glazed donut to vaccinated customers every day for the entirety of 2021!! Other companies with delicious treats followed suit:

  • Shake Shack– Anyone who gets their shot specifically at a mobile vaccination site in NYC will get a voucher for a Shake Shack burger, and as of June 12, anyone who shows their vaccination card at one of their locations will get free crinkle fries with a burger or chicken sandwich order.
  • Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs is giving away a free hot dog at its Coney Island location in NY to customers on the day of their vaccination.
  • Ledo Pizza in Annapolis, Maryland is offering one free 8-inch cheese pizza through June 30 to people who have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
  • Jose Andres Restaurants are giving $50 gift cards to restaurant patrons in Washington D.C. who show proof of vaccination. 

Free Alcohol!

Want some free drinks? Well, here’s what’s on offer if you’re vaccinated:

big glass of beer

  • Anheuser-Busch– on June 2, this major brewery announced that they will buy a round of beer for Americans 21 and older once the country has reached the 70% goal. 
  • The Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce is running a “Shots for Shots” promotion: anyone who gets the vaccine at the walk-up site on 17th Street and Convention Center will be given a coupon for a free drink. 
  • The Louisiana Restaurant Association is also sponsoring a “Shots for Shots” promotion in the state that began at the beginning of June. The association plans to partially reimburse free drinks offered by bars and restaurants to fully vaccinated patrons. 
  • The Governor Of Illinois will allow businesses that sell alcohol to offer customers a free drink if they provide proof of vaccination. 

Free Weedtwo marijuana joints and buds

Washington State has announced their “Joints for Jabs” promotion, which will allow fully vaccinated people who are 21 or older to claim free marijuana joints or bags of marijuana. The promotion is taking place in several cities, as well as in other states across America, and will end July 12. 

Free Money

Vaccinated individuals who are 18 and older can also enter a lottery for cash prizes in the following states:

  • New York–  The “Vax and Scratch” promotion is offering free lottery scratch-off tickets with a grand prize of $5 million.
  • California- The “Vax for the Win” promotion will announce 10 winners of $1.5 million cash prizes each.
  • Ohio– This state is offering a $1 million jackpot to 5 vaccinated adults.
  • Maryland– This state is offering $2 million in lottery cash prizes ending July 3.
  • Kentucky– Vaccinated adults will get a free Cash Ball 225 ticket, which has a cash prize of $225,000.
  • Oregon- Adults can win a grand prize of $1 million or one of 36 $10,000 prizes. Vaccinated adults will only be eligible if they receive the shot by midnight on June 27. 
  • New Mexico- Those who have had at least 1 shot will be entered in weekly drawings to take home $250,000; those who are fully vaccinated could win the grand prize of $5 million dollars.
  • West Virginia– Officials are offering $100 savings bonds to all 16-35 year olds who get the vaccine.
  • Colorado- The “Colorado Comeback Cash” program will choose one vaccinated resident a week to win a $1 million jackpot.
  • Washington- This state’s lottery includes 4 weekly drawings for a $250,000 cash prize and one final drawing of $1 million.

Free Tickets

the yankee stadium with a game taking place
The Yankees and other MLB teams are giving away tickets to those who get vaccinated in their stadiums.

Now that things are finally opening back up, and people can go outside and enjoy life again, some amusement parks and sports teams are offering freebies and other incentives to those who get vaccinated. For example:

  • In Illinois, Six Flags Great America is donating 50,000 tickets for entrance to two of its amusement parks for people who are vaccinated.
  • Major League Baseball teams Yankees and Mets are offering vaccinations at their stadiums and a free ticket voucher for a 2021 or 2022 regular home game through June. 
  • The NFL have announced they will be giving away 50 tickets to Super Bowl LVI to vaccinated people who share why it’s important to get vaccinated.


Some states are trying get more young people on board with vaccination by offering a chance to win a free education: 

  • Ohio is offering 5 full-ride scholarships to any in-state college or university for residents between the ages of 12-17 who get the vaccine as part of the state’s lottery.
  • New York is including a full-ride scholarship to one of the state’s public universities for 12-17 year-olds who’ve gotten their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine as part of their state lottery. 
  • Delaware is including a full-ride scholarship to a public, in-state university to residents between the ages of 12-17 who receive a vaccine in their raffle. 

Employer Incentives

blue card with the words "gift card" on it
Some employers are offering gift cards, money, and paid time off to employees who get vaccinated.

In an attempt to get employees vaccinated, some companies are offering their employees extra forms of compensation. Employees who work in the following stores, and have received the vaccine, can expect the following incentives:

  • Grocery chain Aldi is offering up to 4 hours of paid time off for hourly workers
  • Dollar General is offering a stipend worth 4 work hours
  • Publix is handing out $125 gift cards
  • Apple and AT&T are offering paid time off
  • Kroger employees will be entered in a weekly sweepstakes to win $1 million, and 50 employees will get free groceries for a year.
  • Wawa is giving employees $300 

Other Freebies

  • Health insurance company Blue Cross Blue Shield will put $50 on eligible members’ MyBlue Wellness Card after getting vaccinated. Members can use the money to purchase qualified medical expenses. 
  • The White House has partnered with Uber and Lyft to provide free transportation to vaccination sites and back.
  • NYC will give a free 7-day unlimited MetroCard, or 2 one-way commuter rail tickets, to people who get vaccinated at pop-up stops inside a subway or rail station.
  • For those who need someone to watch their children while they get vaccinated, KinderCare, Learning Care Group, and YMCA locations are offering free drop-in appointments.
  • Maine is giving away 5,000 fishing licenses and 5,000 hunting licenses for people 18 and older who are vaccinated. 
  • Places like the  NYC Aquarium, NY Botanic Garden, Bronx Zoo, Lincoln Center, and more in New York are offering free and discounted tickets to those who get vaccinated.