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New COVID variant on the rise: here’s how to stay safe

The holiday travel rush continues Friday morning, as many are packing their bags to get to the airport. But with all the crowds, comes renewed concerns about getting sick before the holidays.
There’s a new variant now called JN-1 and its highly contagious, given that this is expected to be one of the busiest travel holiday periods on record.
Already, locally, doctors have seen an uptick in positive COVID cases, but it should be noted there has not necessarily been an increase in COVID hospitalizations.
Still, that uptick is the very reason why travelers are being recommended to mask up. While it’s not mandatory, it’s proven to limit exposure and doctors are urging caution.
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Doctors also say there’s a new vaccine you can take but it’s not mandatory. In fact, only 17% of Massachusetts residents have taken it so far. But if you are considered high risk, you are being urged to consider it.
“It’s not a hard scientific fact that everybody must get a shot every year. We’re still learning who stands to benefit from the most from the annual vaccine,” said Dr. Shira Doron of Tufts Medical Center. “Boosting that immunity with an annual vaccine will help you to avoid severe complications of COVID. So, it’s most important that people who have those risk factors get that annual vaccine.”
Some states in the New England area that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said has “very high or high levels of COVID” are Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island.

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