The BA.5 subvariant is driving up cases and hospitalizations across the US, with health officials warning the actual number is likely much higher due to at-home testing. “We are at a point in the pandemic where most COVID-19 deaths are preventable,” said White House COVID-19 response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha at a White House press briefing. “Our strategy to manage BA.5 relies on making sure Americans continue to have easy and convenient access to these tools. We’re going to continue mobilizing the entire federal government, working with state and local leaders, healthcare providers, organizations, employers, community-based organizations, and others to do this. We’re also going to communicate clearly about common sense steps Americans can take to protect themselves to that end.” Here are five things virus experts want you to know about BA.5. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
Vaccines Save Lives
Virus experts are reminding people that vaccination is still the best way to protect against COVID-19 and subsequent variants such as BA.5. “Vaccines remain our single most important tool to protect people against serious illness, hospitalizations, and death,” says Dr. Jha. “And staying up to date is essential as we see BA.5 rise across the country. We encourage all Americans to get vaccinated if they haven’t already. Americans age five and above should get their first booster shot within five months after their initial vaccination. And if you haven’t, don’t delay, do it now, getting vaccinated now will not preclude you from getting a variant-specific vaccine later in this fall or