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WA state health officials: BA.2 variant now the most common in Washington

TVW screenshot

Also, don't wait to get your Covid booster shot if you're eligible

Washington state health officials say about 90% of the cases reported in the state are now of the BA.2 variant.

They say the overall number of cases has increased slightly statewide during the last few weeks, but the number of people hospitalized with and dying from Covid is stable or decreasing.

State epidemiologist Scott Lindquist says, if this continues, Washington should begin normalizing its response to Covid, treating it as something as routine as the flu.

“Having that discussion with your provider. Having that provider test you and the minute they test you, being able to turn around and offer you anti-viral treatments right there. That’s the model of shifting, rather than just being in this pandemic response of counting cases," Lindquist said during a media briefing on Wednesday.

Health Secretary Umair Shah says Washington has controlled Covid over the last several months in part because of increased home testing. He says the state has distributed a million free tests through its “Say Yes to Covid” testing program.

Shah also urged people who are eligible for Covid boosters to get them as soon as possible. He says people who waiting for specific occasions, such as travel, should get the jab now before their current immunity wanes.

Shah says it’s not clear yet if there will be additional rounds of boosters or if Covid vaccines will require an annual shot, as with the flu.

Michele Roberts, the agency’s assistant secretary for prevention and health, says answers about boosters may be available soon.

“The manufacturers are doing a lot more continuation of their clinical trials to understand what is that right interval and when may additional booster doses be needed. They’re also looking at the options around booster doses with new variant-specific vaccines," she said.

The current guidelines call for people 50 and older or with weakened immune systems to receive a fourth Covid vaccine shot.

One of the Northwest's most seasoned reporters is returning to his SPR roots. Doug Nadvornick will be heard frequently on KPBX and KSFC reporting on local news.