SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Sanford Health’s chief physician has a message, and he wants people to hear it. As he discusses how many people the omicron variant will have reached in a span of two months, Dr. Jeremy Cauwels is stressing just how vital a booster shot is.

“We believe that a third of the country and in fact a third of the area that we live in right now is going to get omicron in some way, shape or form between January 1st and the end of February,” Cauwels said. “So only in that two months. Knowing that we know that, what we can say is the best way to keep yourself out of the hospital and to keep yourself from getting omicron is to make sure you’ve got an up-to-date booster.”

He then lists two reasons.

“And so whether that be nearly 90% reduction in ending up in the hospital or a two-thirds reduction in getting any symptomatic illness whatsoever, both of those make the booster extremely attractive for the next month to month-and-a-half as we try to get through this,” Cauwels said.

A prior diagnosis of COVID-19, Cauwels says, likely doesn’t make the booster obsolete.

“We can say regardless of whether or not you’ve had a previous COVID diagnosis that getting the booster gives you a hybrid form of immunity that comes from both natural immunity and the vaccine, and that that kind of protection is probably the best protection that you can get against future illness,” Cauwels said.

A lot of cases in a concentrated area can mean consequences.

“I think the biggest concern for us is what this rapid wave does to a workforce,” Cauwels said. “It very much can cause lots of people to be out in, for five days at a time all at once, and if that becomes a problem in the hospital, it becomes a problem for hospital capacity as well.”

He says someone’s odds of spreading COVID-19 drop with the vaccine.

“It’s abundantly clear that vaccinated people spread COVID less,” Cauwels said. “It’s also abundantly clear that boosted are also the least likely to get any symptomatic COVID at all. And so boosted folks are the folks that we believe are the most protected both from getting COVID and from spreading COVID to their loved ones.”