With omicron, many vaccinated Americans will at some point test positive. Here’s what to do.

A line for a coronavirus testing in New York on Dec. 22. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

With the omicron variant spreading rapidly, the United States is all but certain to see a sharp rise in breakthrough coronavirus infections among vaccinated people. These cases were relatively rare in the pre-omicron days, but the new variant has shown an ability to slip past the body’s first line of immune defenses. That means many Americans who have gotten the shots will at some point test positive.

Coronavirus vaccines act like a shield against disease, not an impenetrable barrier, and they offer protection against the omicron variant. Health authorities say booster shots of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are the best defense against serious illness, providing robust protection against severe disease. Your likelihood of developing a breakthrough infection is lowest if you’ve gotten the additional shot. The initial two-shot vaccine regimen still offers protection, but it’s not as effective against the omicron variant without boosters.

If you do get a breakthrough infection, here’s some advice on how to navigate it.

What to know about the omicron variant of the coronavirus