January 2022 COVID-19 Q&A

On what do the experts agree?

  • The omicron variant is one of the most transmissible viruses known.
  • Most people in the United States will get COVID-19. One in five already have.
  • As more people are vaccinated and develop natural immunity, the pandemic will eventually subside. COVID-19 will remain, like influenza, an infectious agent that we will continue to deal with for a long time.

If people can be vaccinated and masked and still get COVID-19, what’s the point?

  • The key goal is to stay out of the hospital. Just because our current resources aren’t perfect is no reason to not use them and try to stay well or have a milder case.

Is it too late to get vaccinated and/or boosted?

No! Get vaccinated and boosted. This is your best defense against a poor outcome. A Swiss study that tracked deaths by vaccine status showed mortality was 48× lower for fully vaccinated and boosted people.

How soon can I get boosted?

  • If you had Moderna or Pfizer vaccine - as soon as 5 months after 2nd vaccination.
  • If you had Johnson & Johnson vaccine - as soon as 2 months after vaccination.
  • If you had a different type of vaccine, please check with UMD Health Services for assistance.
  • If you have a specific health condition and questions about the booster, please check with your health care provider.
  • Acquired immunity (from having had COVID-19) was protective in many situations, but omicron changed the rules. Here is an in-depth explanation.

Why do the masking guidelines keep changing?

  • We continue to learn more about how the virus spreads, and production has increased so that our front line workers now have an adequate supply. 3M alone produced over 2.5 billion N95 respirators in 2021.

I heard that cloth masks don’t work. What should I do?

  • Any mask is somewhat effective at protecting others from you. To protect yourself, you should consider a high-quality mask (N95 or KN95).
  • The University requires wearing a mask indoors in public spaces.
  • The U.S. Government is making 400 million non-surgical N95 masks available to the public for free. They will be distributed via pharmacies, community health centers, and other methods starting late next week and should be widely available by February.
  • Follow good masking guidelines. Fit is critically important.

My friend/family member/roommate has COVID-19. What does the University recommend I do?

What should I do if I get COVID-19?

I’m vaccinated, now what?

First, thank you! Second, if you haven’t yet, schedule your booster shot as recommended in President Gabel’s December 27 message. As of Tuesday, booster shots are available for anyone 12 years of age or older. Vaccination is available for age 5 and up.

I’m vaccinated, does that mean I can’t get COVID-19?

No, especially not with omicron being so easily transmissible and so prevalent in our communities. The most significant benefit of vaccination is that it helps you avoid serious complications and hospitalization. The booster shot(s) are critical to maintaining this benefit.

I’m vaccinated and boosted, am I done?

Probably not. Viruses evolve, and we’re seeing immunity decrease over time. Updated and amplified protection is key to staying healthy and bringing the pandemic under control.

I’ve had COVID-19, does that protect me from the omicron variant?

Based on current data, no. You should still get vaccinated and boosted.

I don’t feel well. What should I do?

If your symptoms resemble COVID-19, you should be tested.

I tested positive for COVID-19. Now what do I do?