The dominant strain of COVID is now BA.5. It’s a subvariant of Omicron and it’s accounting for the majority of cases across the country. While BA.5 is less severe than previous variants, like Delta or the original strain of COVID, it’s still something parents need to keep an eye on.
Here’s what you should know about the latest COVID variant.
What are the symptoms of BA.5?
Symptoms of BA.5 are similar to other Omicron variants, says Dr. Eric Robinette, pediatric infectious disease physician at Akron Children’s.
Symptoms can include:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Muscle pain
Like the original Omicron variant, the BA.5 is more likely to be concentrated to the upper respiratory tract rather than the lower respiratory tract.
If my child has already had COVID and been vaccinated, can they contract BA.5?
Yes, if someone has had a previous COVID infection or vaccination, he can still contract BA.5.
”Immunity against infection and severe disease is largely a function against two factors: 1) The level of antibodies the patient has at the time of exposure and 2) the level of antibodies needed to combat a particular strain. Antibody levels go down as time passes since an infection with COVID or a COVID immunization,” explains Dr. Robinette.
How can families protect themselves?
Parents can take a number of steps to best protect their families:
- Get boosted or vaccinated: Dr. Robinette recommends family members get vaccinated and boosted. Now that the FDA has approved the use of COVID-19 vaccines for children aged five years old and younger, most of the population is eligible for vaccination.
- Stay up to date: Having family members boosted and current on their COVID-19 vaccines helps keep everyone safe.
- Follow CDC guidance: Dr. Robinette suggests you follow CDC guidance for your local area. This can help you determine how quickly the virus is spreading and if you should wear a mask when in public. If you do decide to wear a mask, it’s recommended to wear a fitting face covering like an N95, and remember children aged 2 and under should not wear masks.
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