(WHNT) — There’s a new trend of people purposely exposing themselves to the Omicron variant of COVID-19 to “get the infection out of the way” and boost their immunity. 

Doctors say it is not a smart idea and are hopeful that this trend goes away fast. They say that gambling with your health and risking possible long COVID-19 effects is not a wise trend. 

“That’s a terrible idea,” said Dr. David Kimberlin of UAB Hospital of Infectious Diseases 

Dr. Kimberlin says that catching COVID-19 on purpose, with the intention of becoming immune to it, is the worst thing that anyone can do. Especially while infections are still on the rise.  

“Why would you run the risk of getting a virus that could kill you when you can get a very safe and effective vaccine that will give you even stronger protection,” Kimberlin told News 19.

Dr. Kimberlin adds that although the risk of death or hospitalization is relatively low with the omicron variant – it’s still not a zero risk. Beyond the carelessness for self, the risk of transmitting to others, including the most vulnerable remains. Patients who catch Omicron are also being diagnosed with other infections caused by the variant.   

“This is a highly transmissible infectious disease,” said Kimberlin. ‘It’s causing a pandemic and the one thing that we are finally realizing is that we can’t wall it off.”

The intention of trying to deliberately catch Omicron is all the rage, according to doctors, and they say that with exasperation. Trying to get infected on purpose is unsafe and could prove fatal, especially in those with other chronic illnesses.   

“So then why would you do that?” Dr. Kimberlin added. “I think all you’re doing there is incurring risks and the benefit is not as strong or as good as the benefit of getting vaccinated or getting boosted if you’ve been vaccinated and it’s been long enough to receive the booster and you’re the right age range for that. It’s not a good idea and I would strongly recommend against that. it’s just not worth the risk.

The steep rise in cases of the Omicron variant is resulting in a strain on our healthcare system. There’s no reason to believe we’re going to achieve herd immunity by just having everyone exposed and getting it over with.