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Some San Diegans seeking booster in wake of new Omicron variant

President Biden plans to lay out his strategy for dealing with COVID-19 during the winter months, indicating that this will not include lockdowns or shutdowns.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — The discovery of the Omicron variant here in California has renewed calls from health experts and the White House for everyone to get vaccinated, and if eligible, to get their booster shot. 

A message some San Diegans are heeding.

"Personally, I'd rather be safe than sorry," said Michael Howell. 

Howell, a local San Diegan, signed up for his booster shot on Wednesday, in part because he's planning on traveling to Puerta Vallarta soon, but also says the emergence of the Omicron variant motivated him.  

"I want to feel confident to be able to travel to any country," said Howell. "And be able to do whatever I want to do."

Howell is heeding the President's advice.

"The best protection against Omicron is getting a booster shot," said President Biden earlier Tuesday, speaking from the White House.

San Diegans to some degree seem to be responding.

While Scripps and Sharp Healthcare have not seen a substantial increase in demand since Omicron variant was first discovered last week, Rady Children's has seen an uptick in adults coming to get their booster, especially at their walk-in clinic.

That's welcome news to one nurse and epidemiologist, who's already been boosted.

"So many people are opinionated and think they are above getting ill, and that is really a problem," Jan Cipkala-Gaffin told News 8. 

For her, the solution is simple.

"Get the booster!" said Cipkala-Gaffin. "Do something good for somebody else if you're not going to do it for yourself."

"I do think that it is important," said Hannah Hurley, a local dentist. 

Hurley is fully vaccinated and is planning to get the booster shot.

"For me and my patients' sake I think it's the best option," she added. 

She does wonder whether the booster will fully protect against the Omicron variant: a question that scientists are now scrambling to answer.

"If it gives us a better chance of keeping society open, keeping everyone healthy, then it's worth the risk, even if you might feel ill for a day as a result of the booster," she told News 8.

On Thursday, President Biden plans to lay out his strategy for dealing with COVID-19 during the winter months, indicating that this will not include lockdowns or shutdowns, but instead vaccinations, booster shots and widespread COVID testing.

WATCH RELATED: 'It is not a cause for panic' | First U.S. case of omicron variant identified in California (December 2021)