COVID variant spreading before holidays, check your protection.

As the holiday season approaches, cases of the COVID-19 virus have risen again, this time due to the spread of a new variant called JN.1. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the variant now accounts for an estimated 21% of new infections in the US, and its prevalence has doubled since the end of November.

JN.1 is closely related to another omicron subvariant, BA.2.86, and is believed to have a single change to the spike protein that allows it to enter host cells more easily and evade detection by the human immune system. The World Health Organization officially classified the variant on December 19th, noting that the additional global public health risk posed by JN.1 is currently evaluated as low.

The good news is that the updated COVID-19 booster shot is expected to provide protection against JN.1, as it is closely related enough to previous variants that the vaccine should be effective. The CDC recommends that everyone over the age of six months receive the booster shot, as well as the regular flu shot. However, despite this, fewer and fewer Americans are opting to get the new shot, with only 14% of the population having received it by mid-November.

As such, the CDC urges Americans to take extra precautions this holiday season. This includes getting all recommended vaccines, wearing masks, and keeping a distance from anyone who may be sick. Doing so will help prevent the spread of the virus and other respiratory illnesses, and ensure that people stay safe and healthy during the holidays.

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