Officials encouraging vaccinations, testing as omicron spreads to several states

Coronavirus Local Impact

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – The omicron variant has more people seeking out vaccinations and COVID tests, especially with the holidays approaching.

Holyoke City Councilor, Peter Tallman expressed his concerns, telling 22News, “Hearing the new variant, not knowing how strong it is, its important to get our booster.”

The omicron variant has people rolling up their sleeves before the holidays. The Behavioral Health network held a pop up vaccine clinic on the first floor at the Holyoke Mall. Some were getting their first doses, while for others, it was about the booster.

Vaccination clinics are getting even more popular with health experts strongly recommending booster shots. People in a line at the Holyoke mall, really wanted to get it done before the holidays.

Assistant Program Director at BHN Equity Vaccine Clinic, Michelle Hyde told 22News, “I want to hug my family, I miss my nieces, children, and I want to travel. Its better to be safer than sorry.”

BHN’s goal is 1,500 vaccinations this month, and bring up that Hampden county’s vaccination rate.

“I mean for people who aren’t vaccinated, I really encourage people, especially in our community to try to get vaccinated. Its never too late,” added Holyoke City Councilor Tallman.

Testing is also up, the Eastfield Mall site has been getting more traffic since omicron emerged.

Ops Supervisor of AMR, Jeffrey Suriano added, “We think that may be a factor, so far we’ve seen an increase in testing requests based on holidays. We are well over 1,000 tests a day now after thanksgiving holiday.”

Swabs from PCR tests can help identify omicron, but a genetic analysis is needed to confirm it. That can take a couple of weeks. More than 20 people in at least 11 U.S. states have tested positive for the omicron variant.

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