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Boosters Important as New COVID-19 Variant Spreads

A highly contagious variant of COVID-19 is quickly becoming the most prevalent strain in the U.S. and across the world.

Known as XBB.1.5 and dubbed the Kraken, this new strain is a subvariant of Omicron and is already responsible for an estimated 43% of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, XBB.1.5 is spreading more easily than any other COVID-19 strain in the nation.

“XBB.1.5 does not appear to be causing more serious disease than previous COVID-19 strains,” said Adam Brady, MD, of Samaritan Infectious Disease – Corvallis. “We are seeing that the current COVID booster vaccine continues to reduce the chances of severe disease or death in people who get COVID and are at high risk of severe COVID-19 infection.”

Still, as cases of XBB.1.5 infections grow, COVID-19-related hospitalizations are expected to also rise and that could tax already-stretched health care resources.

“For all those reasons, we highly recommend that people stay up-to-date on all the COVID-19 vaccinations,” Dr. Brady said. “This is the very best way to keep yourself safe and protected, especially if you have risk factors for severe infection.”

The current CDC booster guidelines recommend everyone receive one booster shot after completing their primary series.

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