As the omicron variant of the coronavirus spreads in the United States and in Maryland, federal and state officials are encouraging vaccination against the virus that causes COVID-19, including getting booster shots.

Three residents in the Baltimore metropolitan area were the state's first confirmed cases of the omicron variant, the governor confirmed Dec. 3.

The omicron variant spreads more easily than the original virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Currently, the CDC is still studying the variant, which has circulated in more than 50 countries and was first confirmed in the United States on Dec. 1.

"The single most important thing you can do to maintain your immunity against this virus and its variants is to get your booster shot," Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement last week.... Read More: Pikesville Patch