The novel coronavirus is continuing to hit a rising number of cases across the country, as the latest sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5 of the Omicron variant have prompted U.S. officials to urge Americans to take careful precautions in protecting themselves, and children’s health as the virus transforms. 

Similar to the influenza (flu) virus, the BA.4 and BA.5 viruses show symptoms of runny nose, sore throat, fever, muscle pain, and fatigue, accounting for roughly 80% of the current coronavirus cases in the United States with most cases reportedly documented as the BA.5 variant.  U.S. health officials continue to stress  the necessity of vaccinations to help fight the increasing threat of COVID-19.

“Even where 70% vaccination coverage is achieved, if significant numbers of health workers, older people and other at-risk groups remain unvaccinated, deaths will continue, health systems will remain under pressure and the global recovery will be at risk,” World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement. “Vaccinating all those most at risk is the single best way to save lives, protect health systems and keep societies and economies open.”

The White House released a statement just days before word of President Biden’s recent COVID diagnoses, detailing ambitious efforts in expanding vaccination access to citizens of nearly all ages, and highlighting the uptick in resource availability to combat infection.  The U.S. currently provides three treatments used to protect against the viral infection, now including the antiviral pill, Paxlovid.

District school officials have consequently implemented tighter restrictions for children safety, as the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) has officially added mandated inoculation requirements of school children aged 12-15 to now receive the primary COVID-19 vaccination series, or continue within their series of shots by September 16 of this upcoming school year. 

At whichever point when, or if the Federal Drug Administration grants full approval for children younger than 12, those students will have 70 calendar days from the date of FDA approval to receive their series of COVID-19 vaccination.

In the next part of this series, the Washington Informer will follow up with how the District is tackling children inoculations for returning students, and how schools and parents are responding in efforts to protect against the recent BA.4 and BA. 5 surges.

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