BIRMINGHAM Ala. (WIAT) — UAB doctors have shared their current recommendations for treating and preventing the spread of COVID-19. They say COVID is not going anywhere, but there are ways to decrease risks.

Division director of infectious diseases Jeanne Marrazzo says the transmission of the BA.5 subvariant of Omicron is high. It’s also responsible for many of the respiratory infections they are seeing.

Marrazzo says CDC updates will likely come within the next two weeks, but that it is safe to expect updated vaccines in the fall.

Dr. David Kimberlin shares the importance of finding ways to decrease risks that will also allow our community to continue life as normal.

“The virus is with us. It will stay with us,” said Kimberlin. “Therefore, we need to redouble our efforts to figure out how to live with this virus. That doesn’t mean ignore it. That means really, truly figuring out how to decrease our risks in a way that allows us to continue with our lives.”

Kimberlin says this is crucial for schools. He says the 2020 school year showed us how important it is for children to attend school in person.

To help prevent COVID cases in schools, Kimberlin encourages parents with children six months and older to talk to their pediatrician about getting their child vaccinated.

“The vaccine across the age spectrum, six months through 95 years and beyond, is highly effective in doing what we need for them to do and that is to prevent severe disease, hospitalization and death,” said Kimberlin. “They will not prevent every runny nose.”

He believes most schools will not require masks, but that he still has confidence for this school year as he says schools are not known to be an epicenter of community spread.

Regardless, UAB medical officials encourage anyone with COVID-like symptoms to get tested in order to help protect others around them.

“I would say if you have any symptoms of a respiratory infection from a runny nose, sinus congestion — I mentioned the sore throat in particular, the throat can be a really big problem — I would go ahead and test,” said Marrazzo.

Marrazzo and Kimberlin say following CDC guidelines are also important to help lower the number of COVID cases within the community.