NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The omicron variant now surging through Tennessee is sure to infect more people – and soon – says Dr. Aima Ahonkhai. “The fact that this is happening, right in the middle of the holiday season, where we’re gathering and traveling. There should be a fallout from that. And the hospitals are certainly bracing themselves to be ready to deal with that.”

The infectious disease doctor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center is encouraging people to give their immune system a boost as soon as possible. “Because of their vaccine response, they will clear that infection out of their system sooner.”

Although COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at minimizing severe symptoms caused by the virus, vaccine effectiveness decreases over time. That’s why boosters are being recommended.

As people line up to get their series of COVID shots and boosters – we ask, can you overprotect yourself -unintendedly doing more harm than good?

“No, is the short answer,” said Dr. Ahonkhai. “There’s an entirely separate pathology when your immune system does not know how to turn off when there is something stimulating it. And in the case of autoimmune diseases, that thing stimulating it is something normal in your own body –  We can’t create that scenario, from vaccination, with small doses of antigens.”

Dr. Ahonkhai encourages those with questions to reach out to medical professions and reminded fellow physicians to be patient with those still hesitant to roll up their sleeves. “Information is changing. And I think taking some responsibility on the side of the public health community, that we need to be really intentional about how we explain this information. Because there can be so much lost in trust if that’s not done effectively.”