GHENT, WV (WVNS)– As the Omicron COVID-19 variant continues to surge through the US, so does confusion about how best to protect loved ones during the months, when social distancing becomes more challenging.

This time last year, the first vaccines afforded Americans the opportunity to return to many activities they’d avoided for months. Now, there are questions around vaccine durability, and booster effectiveness as new variants of concern continue to emerge.

Dr. Paul Burton, Moderna’s Chief Medical Officer said this is the time to get vaccinated. He talked about a new variant-specific booster for Omicron.

“That is why we believe and why we’ve started testing of an omicron-specific variant. Because we think that that vaccine will be an important part of the protection of people in 2022,” Dr. Burton said.

In 2023, Dr. Burton said Moderna is hoping to launch a coupling vaccine with both the Flu and COVID.

“We need to be able to couple that with a flu shot, so you’ll get a single injection that will cover both flu and COVID. It’s really a way of adapting to the virus, adapting to these new variants, and then coupling it with flu and other respiratory illnesses that we think will be most effective,” Dr. Burton said.

Dr. Burton said about half of West Virginias are vaccinated and half of those people are boosted. He mentioned getting the vaccination is the best way at preventing hospitalizations and defeating this pandemic.

“The best way to stay safe, to stay out of hospitals, and to prevent death is to get vaccinated and then to get boosted against COVID. We see excellent protection, study after study shows just how effective, for example, Moderna vaccine is in the real world provide great protection and does that very safely,” Dr. Burton said.

For any questions or information about the Moderna vaccination, visit www.makeityourvaccine.com