COVID-19 General United States

BA.2.86 Variant Can Drive Outbreaks, Health Official says

Photo captured from CDC

A recent increase in COVID-19 patients in many states in the U.S. has warned us to limit our exposure in public spaces. Currently, the CDC is tracking a SARS-CoV-2 variant called BA.2.86, a highly mutated variant of the virus, and its appearances in 10 states include Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. According to CDC,

  • During the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices meeting on September 12, 2023, manufacturers of the 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccines presented laboratory evidence demonstrating that their vaccines are expected to provide protection against the virus that causes COVID-19, including the BA.2.86 variant.
  • Updated COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for everyone 6 months and older and will be available by the end of this week at most places you would normally go to get your vaccines.
  • Older adults and persons with weakened immune systems are at greatest risk for hospitalization and death. In addition, healthy children and adults can still experience severe disease.
  • The updated vaccines should work well against currently circulating variants of COVID-19, including BA.2.86, and continue to be the best way to protect yourself against severe disease.
  • The benefits of COVID-19 vaccination continue to outweigh any potential risks. Serious reactions after COVID-19 vaccination are rare.
  • In one study, the risk of cardiac complications, including myocarditis, in males 12-17 years old was 1.8 – 5.6 times higher after COVID-19 infection than after COVID-19 vaccination.
  • The vaccines are covered by insurance, including private insurance, Medicare plans, and Medicaid plans. Uninsured children and uninsured adults also have access through the Vaccine for Children Program and Bridge Access Program, respectively.

CDC stated that the recent increased hospitalization of patients around the globe is most likely not related to BA2.86 but rather to XBB variant descent. However, the CDC is very closely monitoring the BA2.86 variant.

On September 12, 2023, the CDC recommended a COVID-19 vaccine updated for 2023-2024 for everyone aged 6 months and older to protect against serious illness.

The fall season is the time to take vaccines for viruses including flu and Covid-19, and to prepare for the upcoming winter. Stay safe, everyone.

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