New COVID strain XBB.1.5 is now most prominent strain
With a new COVID strain getting around the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) says now is the time to get up-to-date with your COVID-19 vaccinations. The COVID-19 vaccine and the new bivalent boosters are important for your maximum protection as the Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 overtakes other Omicron subvariants which were dominant in the fall.
The new strain accounts for about 40 percent of cases in the U.S. and is now the main subvariant in the Northeastern states where it accounts for an estimated 75 percent of cases.
Only about one-third of Americans ages 65 and older are up to date with COVID-19 vaccine and boosters. The best protection for children and adults ages six months and older is to be vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine and booster.
The new strain, also known as XBB.1.5, is not known to be more severe than other variants, and vaccination can help prevent serious illness and hospitalization. A decrease in transmission of the virus means fewer opportunities for it to mutate, which can help prevent other contagious variants from emerging.
In addition to vaccines, the following measures can help protect you from getting infected with COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses:
· Wash your hands thoroughly and often
· Cover coughs and sneezes
· Wear masks in areas of high community transmission
· Stay away from people who are sick
· Stay home if you are sick
If you test positive for COVID-19, treatments are available that can reduce your chances of hospitalization and death. Do not delay, because treatment must be started within days after you first develop symptoms to be effective. Medications for COVID-19 are available through your healthcare provider, health clinic and pharmacies.