Michaeleen Doucleff

There's a growing narrative in the mainstream media, on social media — maybe even at your dinner table. That is: The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is weakening and evolving into a less deadly virus. In the future, each new variant that crops up will cause milder illness than the previous variant.

When it was discovered, omicron alarmed scientists.

The variant looked wildly different from earlier versions of the coronavirus — and it quickly became clear that these mutations gave omicron an uncanny ability to sidestep our vaccines and spread very rapidly.

But it has taken longer to untangle what, if anything, sets an omicron illness apart from that of its predecessors. And most of all, does this variant cause less severe disease than the variants that have come before it?

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SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Several nights ago, my husband texted me these questions while traveling:

Does my vaccine not work anymore?

Should I get a booster even though it's been only four months since my second shot?

"Excellent questions," I thought. One thing is crystal clear about the highly mutated omicron variant of the coronavirus: It has a huge ability to bypass immune protection and cause breakthrough infections.

Here's what you need to know about how well the vaccines are working in the face of the omicron variant and the best timing for getting your booster shot.

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