How Can You Avoid COVID? A Virus Expert Weighs In
With COVID still spiking in many areas and the Omicron variant spreading, it's that much more important to take proper precautions to help avoid getting the virus. There are several ways to stay healthy this holiday season and Eat This, Not That! Health talked to medical experts who explained how to do so. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Get Vaccinated. If You've Been on the Fence, It's Even More Urgent Now
It's been proven that getting vaccinated helps prevent someone from getting COVID and when breakthrough cases happen, the vaccine reduces the level of sickness. Dr. Suman Radhakrishna MD FACP, Director of Infectious Diseases at Dignity Health California Hospital Medical Center says, "Circulating antibodies produced by us in response to vaccination is useful in avoiding severe disease."
Dr. Tom Yadegar, pulmonologist and medical director of the intensive care unit at Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center adds, "In a world with vaccine inequity, SARS-CoV-2 will continue to have the opportunity to mutate, and emerging variants will continue to remain an area of concern. With adherence to public health recommendations and a little common sense, protecting yourself, your family and your community members in the face of uncertainty can be accomplished.
Staying current with vaccinations with the season of respiratory illnesses upon us, it is imperative now more than ever to stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations, including boosters. Vaccines remain the most effective way to decrease the severity of a COVID-19 infection, which in turn, decreases the risk for hospitalization and death. Equally important is also receiving annual influenza vaccines, along with the recommended pneumonia vaccines for certain at-risk groups, in order to help keep your immune system boosted."
Keep Your Distance
Dr. Yadegar explains, "Social distancing can be difficult to navigate around the holiday season with family, but maintaining social distancing of at least 6 feet between members of different households is a powerful tool in diminishing the spread of COVID-19. When gathering with family members and friends, it is highly recommended to hold events outdoors and in well-ventilated areas."
Wear Masks and Wash Your Hands Frequently
Dr. Yadegar says, "COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, and as such, implementing methods to reduce the risk for inhaling viral particles is imperative to decrease the likelihood of contracting the virus. Frequent hand washing and properly wearing masks, especially KN95 masks that work against smaller particles, are efficacious in lowering spread and contraction rates."
While it's tempting to travel this holiday season, Dr. Radhakrishna suggests staying local. "This prevents introducing infection, especially if traveling from high incidence areas to low incidence areas. If you have to travel, monitor for COVID symptoms (fever, cough, diarrhea) and test 3-7 days after reaching your destination."
Dr. Radhakrishna recommends being careful of indoor gatherings. "Outdoor gathering is better than indoor gathering, especially if you plan to take off your mask." She adds, "Mask-up when mingling with individuals who do not live with you, social distance when possible in addition to mask use and video chat instead of parking in large indoor gatherings.
If You're Ill, Stay Home
"If you are not well, and not sure if your symptoms are from COVID or allergies, quarantine until test results are available and talk to your doctor," Dr. Radhakrishna says. "Cancel your plans if you are feeling ill. Your family, friends and coworkers will appreciate it."
How to Stay Safe Out There
Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.
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