Atlanta – The Omicron BA.5 variant, the most transmissible strain in the outbreak so far, may complicate your summer travel plans.
Dr. Cameron Webb, a White House policy adviser and insider, said BA5 is causing reinfection at a faster rate than seen with other variants.
“For most of this outbreak, people thought they were safer if they had an infection in the previous 90 days,” Dr. Webb said. “At BA.5, we’re seeing reinfections faster than that, a matter of weeks, as opposed to months.”
Therefore, Dr. Webb provided a checklist for exploring BA.5.
First, he says, make sure you get tested for Covid-19 at home.
You can order free home delivery on the website. COVIDtests.gov
If you experience symptoms similar to Covid-19, get yourself tested, even if you think you may never be positive again, he says.
“So, if you’ve had Covid in the last few weeks and have flu-like symptoms, it’s still important to get tested again, as this will help you know how to stay safe and protect those around you.” Webb discusses how to reduce ongoing disease transmission.
Next, if you test positive, isolate yourself from people around you and contact your healthcare provider.
“Be sure to talk to them about whether treatments would be right for you,” says Dr. Webb.
If you don’t have a provider, he said, you can search for a “trying to treat” place in your area on the website. COVID.gov
You may be eligible for Paxlovide, which is designed for people at risk of severe Covid-19.
If you don’t have health insurance, paxlovide is available at no cost and can reduce your risk of dying in hospital by up to 90 percent if taken within 3 days of symptoms.
“Even if you’ve recently had Covid-19 and it’s a mild case, that doesn’t mean re-infection is going to be a mild case. So it’s important to consider getting treatment for that,” Webb says. .
Next, stay up-to-date on your vaccinations and boosters.
The CDC recommends that Americans age 5 and older get a booster shot 5 months after receiving the second dose of the vaccine.
Adults age 50 and older or with chronic medical conditions that increase their risk of serious illness are eligible for a second booster shot at least 4 months after the first booster.
The FDA has asked vaccine manufacturers to update their spring booster vaccines to target the recently discovered Omicron strains.
Webb said those bivalent vaccines are under development and could be ready by October or November.
If you’re in for a boost, he recommends shooting for it now rather than waiting for a new boost in the fall.
“Until they find you, you have to use the tools that are currently available,” Webb says. “And if it were me, I would get that vaccine today instead of waiting for some potential time in the fall.”
As of July 15, 2022, 75% of Americans lived in an area of the country with a high or moderate level of community exposure to COVID-19, according to the CDC.
Webb recommends wearing a good-quality mask, such as an N95 or KN95, indoors and in crowded places in areas with moderate or high levels of Covid-19.
If you’re planning to travel, the CDC recommends wearing a mask on public transportation, such as flights, and wearing a mask and staying 6 feet away from other travelers in terminals.
If you think you may need antiviral medication, Dr. Webb recommends researching your options at your travel destination, so you know what to do if you test positive.
“And, then make sure you have the tests with you,” says Dr. Webb. “Make sure you have the ability to confirm that your runny nose or runny nose isn’t actually COVID-19. If you do these things, it’s a better place to put yourself when you’re traveling. That doesn’t mean you can’t.”