UT Health San Antonio has documented the first two cases of the omicron coronavirus variant in Bexar County, health officials said Monday.

San Antonio Metropolitan Health District Director Claude Jacob said that his department had been expecting to see cases of the variant, which was first identified in South Africa in November.

The omicron variant was found in coronavirus samples collected on Nov. 27 and Dec. 7, said Dr. Marjorie David, director of the Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory at UT Health San Antonio. No other information about the samples was available.

“Metro Health has been monitoring this situation the past few weeks as it has been unfolding around the globe, so we expected to see cases in Bexar County eventually,” Jacob said in a prepared statement. “Vaccination continues to be the best defense and protection against COVID-19. We recommend that individuals who are not vaccinated do so as soon as possible to help protect themselves from the Omicron variant.”

Only 69% of the Bexar County population aged 5 and older is fully vaccinated as of Monday, according to Metro Health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authorized the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5-11 on Nov. 2.

Metro Health still recommends people wear masks while indoors with “many people outside of their household,” even if vaccinated. It also urged people eligible for the booster shot to receive one; people 16 years of age and older can receive at least the Pfizer booster six months after finishing full vaccination round with the Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

Pfizer vaccines and boosters are available at the Alamodome drive-thru clinic, University Health’s Wonderland Mall clinic, or a Metro Health vaccine pop-up clinic. University Health also offers Moderna vaccines at the Wonderland Mall. Find more information here.

“We know that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, so we encourage older teenagers, ages 16 and 17, to get their booster ahead of the holidays and to be protected from serious illness or hospitalization,” Jacob stated.

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Jackie Wang

Jackie Wang covered local government for the San Antonio Report.