Winter this year has seemed to be one of the worst in recent memory when it comes to viral illnesses in Texas. We've seen rises in the number of flu cases, RSV has entered the picture, and COVID has been spiking again.

One of the questions wrapped around the increase in COVID cases is simply, why? Weren't the vaccines and all that supposed to help minimize that and keep COVID at bay? Weren't we supposed to be able to move on from it once the virus settled down and stopped attacking people?

That's because as they said when COVID first hit, new variants would come along from it. The virus will mutate and give us different strains of it, just like the flu and other viruses.

THE NEW STRAIN

Well, it seems that time is here as COVID has a new variant. It's called the JN.1 strain, and it seems to be sweeping through the country at a relatively rapid rate. The new JN.1 strain is responsible for 62% of the new COVID cases in the U.S. right now, so it has our attention.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF JN.1?

With the new strain, all the old symptoms seem to still be present. Things such as cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, loss of taste and smell, etc. are all still symptoms you'll have with the new strain.

If you had caught COVID before this new strain, those symptoms may not be AS strong as they were, but they will indeed still be present.

ARE THERE NEW SYMPTOMS WE SHOULD WATCH FOR?

The simple answer to this question is yes. There are two new symptoms to the JN.1 strain we didn't have before. One of them is a feeling of tiredness. Fatigue and tiredness are two very different things. With fatigue, your body just feels like it's worn out and you don't want to move. Tiredness is exactly what it sounds like, it makes you want to sleep all the time.

The other symptom that has been reported in approximately 1 out of every 10 cases is a feeling of worry or anxiety. While this doesn't seem to be a common symptom yet, it has been presented in some cases.

Whether or not this is a TRUE symptom or not yet is unknown. Worry and anxiety could be simply based on how the person is feeling or viewing things with the virus, so there's nothing scientifically confirmed that this feeling is brought on by the virus, or the brain.

Answers to 25 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

Vaccinations for COVID-19 began being administered in the U.S. on Dec. 14, 2020. The quick rollout came a little more than a year after the virus was first identified in November 2019. The impressive speed with which vaccines were developed has also left a lot of people with a lot of questions. The questions range from the practical—how will I get vaccinated?—to the scientific—how do these vaccines even work?

Keep reading to discover answers to 25 common COVID-19 vaccine questions.

Gallery Credit: Stephanie Parker

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