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New variant, new concerns. Focus in North Carolina remains on vaccinations.

President Joe Biden is expected to provide an update about the new coronavirus variant today, including new travel restrictions.

On Sunday, Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci told Biden that it will take approximately two more weeks to have more definitive information on omicron’s transmissibility, its severity, and other characteristics of the variant first identified in South Africa.

In the interim, the White House COVID Response Team offered the following recommendations: Those who have procrastinated and not had a shot yet should get vaccinated against COVID immediately. All vaccinated adults who are eligible should get a booster shot as soon as possible.

Ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, data from the state Department of Health and Human Services showed 57% of North Carolinians fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Health officials are working to get more young children protected. In the weeks after the CDC granted approval to the pediatric vaccine, 12% of North Carolina children age 5-11 have received at least one-dose of the Pfizer shot. Forty-five percent of children age 12-17 have received at least one-dose thus far.

Efforts to improve vaccination rates in rural parts of the state also remains a concern.  Two dozen counties have vaccination rates below 50%. Those include:Click here to find a vaccine appointment near you.

President Biden will deliver remarks on the omicron variant today at 11:45 a.m.

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