BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — With the Alabama Department of Public Health reporting more cases of COVID-19, health leaders say now is not the time to let your guard down– especially with the omicron variant spreading rapidly.

“This omicron variant is incredibly infectious. It’s very, very easy to spread even more so than any variants we’ve seen before,” said Dr. Scott Harris.

Each day, record highs of COVID-19 cases are being reported in Alabama, all while omicron continues to spread.

“It does cause breakthrough infections even for people who are fully vaccinated,” said Dr. Harris.

State Health Officer Scott Harris said he believes there is more omicron in the state than what’s being reported.

“Our most recent sequencing numbers from the CDC today were actually dated to the middle of December, that’s when the results were up to. Nationally the numbers last week were reported as being over 50%,” he said. “Up in the north east where things are really exploding, the numbers are more than 85%, and in countries like South Africa, that first identified omicron it is essentially the variant that is circulating. Because it is so easy to spread we think it’s the dominate one in Alabama as well.”

Officials say vaccines and booster shots are still your best line of defense.

“You can go get a vaccine today of any brand you want, in any county you want, at multiple locations, for free without an appointment. Get that done today,” said Dr. Harris.

State health leaders are warning about the highly contagious omicron variant as the entire state remains at high risk for community spread of the virus.