(CNN) — As the omicron subvariane BA.5 drives a surge in cases and hospitalizations in the US, the White House is urging its citizens to stay current on their COVID-19 vaccinations.

The government is also urging people to wear well-fitting masks and consider getting tested for COVID-19, especially before visiting vulnerable people and attending large gatherings, improving ventilation and resorting to treatments such as Paxlovid.

“We have been seeing how this virus evolves rapidly. We have been planning and preparing for this moment. And the message that I want to get out to the American people is this: BA.5 is something that we are closely monitoring, and more importantly, we know how to handle it,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, COVID-19 Response Coordinator for the White House at a press conference.

Jha urged adults over 50 to get a second Covid-19 booster dose.

“If you haven’t gotten a vaccine this year, do it now. It could save your life,” Jha said.

Data compiled by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCfor its acronym in English) show that only one in four adults over the age of 50 have received a second booster dose of the vaccine against covid-19 that is recommended.

CDC data shows that adults who are up to date on their vaccinations are 3.5 times less likely to be hospitalized than unvaccinated adults; Among older people, people who received two booster shots are 42 times less likely to die from Covid-19 compared to those who aren’t vaccinated, according to a White House fact sheet.

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