Allina Health Clinician Publicly Urges Boosters to Protect Against BA.2 Omicron Variant

Like many states, Minnesota has seen a significant drop in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths from mid-January through mid-April 2022. In fact, those numbers are the lowest they’ve been in a year.

Yet Frank Rhame, M.D., an infectious disease specialist at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, part of Allina Health, is urging people to get a COVID-19 booster to protect against further surges caused by the BA.2 variant of omicron.

“We know [the BA.2 variant] is more infectious and that’s easy to tell because it’s replacing BA.1,” Rhame said in a recent KSTP-TV News story shared on the Allina Health website. “We don’t really know fully yet what the BA.2 is going to do, and a lot of people are worried about that. I’m worried about that.”

Rhame added, “BA.2 and BA.1 both are good at breaking through past immunity. That’s why for the omicron variant, you really need a third dose — to maximize your protection.”

In a follow-up interview with KARE 11 News in Minneapolis, Rhame further explained why he recommends that people who qualify should get a second booster shot. “I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of potential downside to this. … What we know is that the antibody levels wane over time, and the presumption is there that it means more vaccination will help.”

Allina Health’s online COVID-19 Resource Center provides a well-organized and comprehensive hub of information on a variety of COVID-19 topics, including new research studies.

One recent article discusses results from a two-year study, published in early April 2022, that shows COVID-19 infections can increase the risk of heart issues for up to a year after infection — but vaccinated COVID-19 patients are less likely to die of a heart attack. The medical research, conducted by the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, drew its sample from 64 medical facilities in North America, including in Minneapolis and Duluth. The research shows that vaccination can help protect the overall cardiovascular health of COVID-19 patients, compared to COVID-19 patients who haven’t been vaccinated.

Visitors to the Allina Health website can schedule the COVID-19 vaccine and first or second boosters, administered at about 45 Allina clinics. The health system is vaccinating all people age 5 and older. Minnesota has the second largest Hmong community and the largest Somali community in the United States, so FAQs on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments are available in Hmong, Somali and Spanish.