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Local pharmacist urges more people to get vaccinated as a new COVID variant is detected in Wisconsin

"Stay protected, wear your mask, and get your vaccine."
Posted at 5:15 PM, Dec 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-05 18:15:02-05

WISCONSIN — The first case of the Omicron variant in Wisconsin has been found in a Milwaukee County man. The Wisconsin Department of Health say a Milwaukee County man tested positive for the variant after returning from a trip to South Africa.

However, they say he was fully vaccinated and had received a booster shot prior to being infected. That man has since reported mild symptoms and did not need hospitalization.

While a lot is already known about the variant, there's much more to learn.

"We have a lot of unknowns about the Omicron variant. We know it still infects people with mild symptoms," said Omar Eliwa, Welltopia Pharmacy owner.

Eliwa said he's seen an uptick in positive cases. "We realized that about half of the people that are getting tested in one day were positive," he said.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, there were more than 4,500 new confirmed cases bringing the seven-day average to more than 3,500 cases for the week of December 2.

With trends going in the wrong direction, Eliwa said the best way to fight against COVID is simple.

"The vaccine is the strongest weapon against the virus," Eliwa said. "Get vaccinated and if you get infected you will feel more safe."

He wants to make sure people know the vaccine does not ensure you won't get COVID, but does lessen the possibility of going to the hospital or worst-case scenario dying from complications.

He's also worried about another uptick of people requesting to get a different treatment.

"The monoclonal antibody is a treatment. It's only for people who test positive for COVID," he said.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved two monoclonal antibody treatments for emergency use. However, according to the FDA, protection from a monoclonal antibody is not likely to last as long as protection from a vaccine.

"There is zero comparison between the treatment and the vaccine. The vaccine is protecting you before you contract COVID," Eliwa said.

Now, with the holiday season in full swing and a new variant in Wisconsin, Eliwa is stressing that everyone do their part in keeping the community safe.

"Stay protected. Wear your mask, and get your vaccine," he said.

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Coronavirus in Wisconsin

More data on Wisconsin's vaccination progress here.

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Check out county-by-county coronavirus case numbers here.

More information: COVID-19 on the Wisconsin DHS website

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