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We’re all sick of COVID-19, but here’s how to better ensure you don’t actually get sick.

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As we head into our second winter of a global pandemic, you’re likely ready to be done with COVID-19. Welcome to the club! Thankfully, we’re in a better place than we were last year at this time. But with highly-transmissible variants like Delta causing new surges (and other variants possibly on the way), you shouldn’t let your guard down yet.

Thanks to ground-breaking vaccines, many people have a high level of protection against serious illness from COVID-19. But not enough people have been vaccinated to stop the spread of the virus or to prevent new strains from developing due to mutations. Levels of immunity from initial vaccine doses may be lessening or may not be as effective against variants. Other contagious illnesses, such as the common cold and flu, are expected to be more prevalent this year. All of that means you have to be as vigilant as ever to avoid getting sick.

“The single best way you can protect yourself and your loved ones this holiday season is to vaccinate yourself against COVID and the flu prior to the holidays.  Prior to traveling or visiting your family, you may also consider a ‘soft quarantine’ where you avoid going to any crowded places 10-14 days before to help reduce your exposure to COVID.  But most importantly, continue to wear your mask in public and continue to wash your hands regularly to prevent the spread of germs.  We all want to be able to enjoy the holidays with our friends and family, but we should do all we can to do it as safely as possible.”

-Tatiana C. Saavedra, MD, Infectious Disease

So as we head into a time of year filled with socializing and traveling due to the holidays, people returning to work and school (if they hadn’t already done so) and weather conditions that send people indoors, what can you do to stay healthier?

      • Get vaccinated against COVID-19. If you’re still holding out, it’s not too late! This is the single most effective way to protect yourself from serious illness, hospitalization and death from the virus. It’s also the best way to help stop the spread and the development of variants.
      • Get a COVID-19 booster if you’re eligible. If booster shots have been approved for the initial vaccine you received, your age or other factors that may affect your risk, get one. These additional shots have been shown to boost immunity, which may wane over time.
      • Get a flu shot. It’s recommended that people over 6 months of age get a flu shot every year. Each year’s vaccine is designed to protect against the flu strains expected to be most prevalent for the season. Getting a flu shot is the most effective way to avoid getting the flu.
      • Continue wearing a mask. Yeah, we know you’re probably tired of wearing a mask by now, but now is not the time to give up on this practice. As you spend more time indoors, wearing masks lessens the transmission of COVID-19, the flu and other contagious illnesses.
      • Keep washing your hands. It’s still as important as ever to keep your hands clean. There are loads of germs lurking just about everywhere. By washing your hands often or using hand sanitizer, you can keep those germs off your hands so they’re less likely to enter your body.

These tips have been proven to help reduce the spread of contagious viruses, like COVID-19 and the flu, and to lessen the severity of illness if you do catch something. Don’t assume they don’t work if you wind up with a mild or asymptomatic case. Instead, be happy that they stopped you from getting sicker.

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Date Last Reviewed: September 30, 2021

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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