Cook County public health experts monitoring new Omicron variant closely, stress importance of vaccination

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The Cook County Department of Public Health is weighing in on the latest COVID-19 variant that has popped up overseas.

CCDPH said in a statement that it is watching the Omicron variant very carefully even though officials don't know if the virus has reached the U.S. yet.

"We don't know whether our current vaccine will provide at least partial protection from this variant, which it might very well," said Dr. Rachel Rubin, Co-Lead and Senior Medical Officer with CCDPH.

"But we anticipate if it does take hold in the United States and that's a big if-we don't know yet is that we would see more what are called breakthrough cases, which means people that have had vaccination already getting COVID with this variant or people that have been affected with the Omicron one time getting it a second time."

For now, CCDPH recommends that people should continue to follow public health guidelines including masking, thorough hand washing, staying physically distant, getting vaccinated and getting the booster shot as soon as they are eligible.