ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Health officials are urging people to stay vigilant, but not panic after the first confirmed case of the  COVID-19 Omicron variant identified in the United States.

What You Need To Know

  •  The first case of the COVID-19 omicron variant in the U.S. was reported Wednesday

  •  While there is a lot doctors and scientists don't know about the variant, they still urge people to take precautions

  • Those include getting a COVID-19 vacciation, and booster, wearing a mask and practicing social distancing

Wednesday,U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy highlighted the importance of vaccinations and boosters.

Officials said the omicron variant case was identified in a person who flew from South Africa to California last week.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, said the person was fully vaccinated, but did not know if they had received a booster shot.

Scientists admit they are still working to learn more about the variant, while doctors continue to say the vaccine is the best defense.

Orange County Public Schools continues to host vaccine events at different school campuses across the district. With winter break right around the corner, families are continuing to be cautious. 

Wednesday evening, Michal Szapiel brought his three daughters to Dr. Phillips High so his oldest could receive her second dose of COVID-19 vaccine.  

“We want to keep them protected and healthy,” Szapiel said. “We don’t want any possible issues down the road if they get potentially sick.”

The family is planning to head west for the holidays. Mom, dad, and big sis are all vaccinated, but his two younger daughters aren’t eligible yet.

“This one I am not so much concerned with because she is still breast feeding and getting antibodies from her mom,” Szapiel said, referencing his youngest. “This one (middle daughter) is going to school on a daily basis, pre-k, and there is corona cases every other week.”

Pediatric infectious disease specialist Dr. Michael Muszynski said with the new omicron variant reaching the states, it is time to be cautious, but not time to panic.

“Right now we should monitor the variant and do common sense,” he said. “Have your kids wear masks in school.”

Dr. David Edwards, an aerosol scientist and Harvard University faculty member, said the omicron variant does appear to be spreading faster than the delta variant.

“I think it’s likely, when it begins to spread in the United States, it will spread relatively quickly,” he said. “Hopefully, like with the Delta variant a wave, and will come and go in a relatively short period of time.”

Both doctors said that even with limited data, the best defense against this new variant is getting a vaccine.

“I have some family members that don’t want to get vaccinated, we obviously want to spend time together,” Szapiel said. “It is hard because we don’t want to expose the kids.”

He said his household has done all they can, with everyone who is eligible.

Currently Florida does have one of the lowest levels of COVID spread in the country, with a 3-5% positivity rate. But Muszynski said doctors and scientists need at least two to three more weeks to see if the current vaccines can produce neutralizing antibodies to stop the omicron variant.​