BA.5, a sub-variant of the Omicron coronavirus variant, now makes up about 65% of cases of COVID-19 in the United States, after a rapid ascent to dominance. It is the most transmissible coronavirus variant yet and it possesses key mutations that help it to evade the protective antibodies conferred by vaccines and prior infection. Undoubtedly, BA.5 will drive a fresh wave of infections and hospitalizations in this country in the coming months.
Vaccines continue to afford significant protection against serious illness and death from COVID-19 and quite some time has passed since this virus last threatened hospital capacity in North Carolina. Nevertheless, while the worst of consequences are less likely, preventing infections still matters. Even mild cases of COVID-19 can lead to the persistent and sometimes disabling symptoms of “long COVID,” which one study suggests may impact up to 1 in 4 older adults after infection with the virus.
At this time, for older adults, being up to date entails receiving a primary vaccine series followed by two booster doses. BA.4/BA.5-specific boosters are anticipated to become available and authorized this fall and Deerfield will have an on-campus vaccination clinic for our residents when they are available.