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It might sound crazy since we’ve all been trying to avoid getting sick with COVID-19, but now a growing number of people are actually looking to come down with the Omicron variant. The reason behind their thinking is that they will get the ordeal over with since we are all likely to be exposed or test positive for the virus at some point, and that it will help build herd immunity. But experts say doing this is a risky gamble with your health.

“You’d be crazy to try to get infected with this,” Dr. Robert Murphy, executive director of the Harvey Institute for Global Health at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine told CNN. “It’s like playing with dynamite.”

The news comes just as Gov. Murphy’s executive order that mandates masks in schools is about to expire and more than 1 in 4 NJ schools are not open for in-person learning. In the meantime, Pfizer and Moderna are working on vaccines that target the omicron variant.

Here’s why you should continue to stay safe from omicron:

It’s Not Just a Cold — Older people and those with compromised immune systems can get very sick from the “milder” omicron variant. Symptoms for otherwise healthy individuals may include fever, body aches, chills, sore throat and more.

You Can Get Long COVID — There’s no way to tell who will develop a lingering case of COVID and experience serious side effects like loss of taste and/or smell that continue to be an issue for many.

You Could Spread It to Kids — There are still many kids who are unvaccinated (those under age 5 are still ineligible) so you put them at risk of contracting COVID from you.

You May Stress the Healthcare System — By deliberately getting COVID, you could further stress hospitals that are currently experiencing critical staffing shortages.

It Can Backfire — While many of us remember our parents deliberately exposing us to other kids with chicken pox, this method can have devastating results when some individuals get severely ill or even die.

The best course of action is to get vaccinated and follow CDC guidance for safety and masking.

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