Just when you thought things were getting back to normal, several new types of COVID-19 are making themselves known. These variants are not as deadly, but they do spreads more quickly than the original and can still put you in the hospital. If you’re one of the higher risk individuals, they can still result in death.

These new variants are actually 5 new subversions of the Omicron virus, a form of COVID-19 that is very adaptable. While the vaccinations you’ve had will offer some protection, it’s not as effective with some of the variants. Don’t let that stop you from getting vaccinated though. The vaccine does provide some immunity and you’ll have a better chance of surviving the infection if you’ve been vaccinated. A vaccine specifically for Omicron should be available this fall in booster form.

You can get these Omicron variants more than once. The level of the virus in Ottawa and Allegan Counties is currently low, but that could change at any time. The variants are in our counties, and we need to keep that in mind as we continue to enjoy summer activities.

COVID-19 is not going away and just because you’ve had it before doesn’t mean you won’t get it again. If you contract the virus, you may be hospitalized or end up with long-COVID. Neither prospect is desirable.

COVID may leave us having to adapt similar to how we do with influenza. Those of us who are elderly, very young, or have compromised immune systems may need to be vaccinated against whatever strain is current each year. We know what to do to withstand this disease. Avoid touching your face. Wash your hands often using soap and water or a hand sanitizer of 60% alcohol or more. Avoid large crowds. Keep your windows and doors open at work to keep air moving though. Maintain a distance of 6 feet or more between yourself and others when out in public. You know the routine! Stay healthy; stay safe.