Department of Health Urges Residents to Be Aware of BA.2 Variant

Last updated: May 16, 2022

Annapolis, MD (March 22, 2022) With the increasing spread of the BA.2 subvariant of COVID-19 , County Executive Steuart Pittman and Health Officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman urged residents to continue seeking out vaccinations and boosters to protect against the disease. 

“We have the tools. Those tools are vaccines, tests, and treatment,” County Executive Steuart Pittman said. “Anybody who is not fully vaccinated or boosted should go out and get that done while we have this lull between surges. Anybody who has symptoms, get tested. And if you are sick, go get treatment. We have the tools – let’s use them.”

BA.2 is a subvariant of the Omicron variant and is increasing in Maryland. Data shows that the BA.2 subvariant is roughly 40% more transmissible than the original Omicron variant. Early reports indicate that both up to date vaccination and recent infection with Omicron provide protection against severe disease from BA.2 infection. At this time, BA.2 does not appear to cause more severe illness than the original Omicron variant. 

“The good news is that we’ve seen this before and we know what you can do to protect yourself and prevent the spread of the BA.2 variant of COVID-19. Get vaccinated, wear your mask if you have high risk conditions, get tested if you have symptoms, and get treatment if you have COVID,” said Anne Arundel County Health Officer Dr. Kalyanaraman.

The Anne Arundel County Department of Health will continue to monitor the spread of BA.2, review new findings on the variant, and inform the public of any updated public safety recommendations. 

To protect against the BA.2 variant of COVID-19, the Department of Health recommends the following:

Vaccinations

  • Everyone ages 5 and older is eligible and should get vaccinated. Vaccines are safe, free and effective.  
  • All vaccinated people 12 and over should get a booster shot as soon as they are eligible. For people who received two doses of Pfizer or Moderna, get a booster five months after your second dose. For people who got Johnson and Johnson, get a booster two months after your one dose. 5-11 year olds are able to get a third dose if immunocompromised.
  • For a vaccination provider near you, visit https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/pages/vaccine. For a list of Anne Arundel County Department of Health booster clinics, visit https://aacounty.org/covidvax/third-dose/index.html

Oral Treatment

  • Everyone ages 12 and over testing positive for COVID-19 and who are at high risk for severe illness, including hospitalization and death, should seek care from their doctor or an urgent care center as soon as possible.
  • Medical providers can prescribe Oral or IV treatments for COVID-19 to decrease the risk of hospitalization and death for those with increased risk for severe consequences of COVID-19.
  • Oral medications are available at pharmacies, urgent care facilities and medical provider offices.  

Masking 

  • People at high risk for severe illness should consider wearing a mask in indoor public settings. 
  • When wearing a mask, make sure that your mask is worn consistently and correctly covering the mouth and nose.
  • Medical grade masks provide better protection than cloth masks or face coverings. 
  • KN95 masks are available at certain branches of the Anne Arundel County Public Libraries, Annapolis Exchange, Anne Arundel Community College, Baymeadow Parking Lot, Glen Burnie Health Center, Lula Scott Community Center, Parole Health Center, Pip Moyer Recreation Center and Department of Health headquarters. For mask and rapid test kit distribution locations, days and times, visit http://staging.aahealth.org/rapidcovidtests.

Testing

  • Get tested if you aren’t feeling well or have been exposed to someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19. 
  • Isolate if you are positive. 
  • Have at-home rapid test kits readily available in your home. 
  • PCR testing is available at various locations throughout the county. For hours and locations: http://staging.aahealth.org/covid19-testing
  • At-home rapid test kits are available at all branches of the Anne Arundel County Public Libraries, Annapolis Exchange, Anne Arundel Community College, Baymeadow Parking Lot, Glen Burnie Health Center, Lula Scott Community Center, Parole Health Center, Pip Moyer Recreation Center and Department of Health headquarters. For at-home test locations, distribution days and times, visit http://staging.aahealth.org/rapidcovidtests.

Physical Distancing 

  • Stay home when you are sick and limit your interactions with others. 
  • Isolate if you are positive. 

Hand Hygiene

  • Practice good hand hygiene, especially when interacting with the public or people outside of your household. 

Businesses

  • Improve ventilation in indoors spaces.
  • Incentivize vaccination of employees.
  • Make masks available to customers and staff.

For information on upcoming vaccination and booster appointments visit www.aacounty.org/covidvax.

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