It’s a wonderful, celebratory time of year for many of us again. Unfortunately, the fall and winter months are the prime time for respiratory viruses like Covid-19, Flu, and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus). Many of us will be getting together with family and friends. It’s important to keep yourself safe and those around you safe.
Outlook for this Winter and Things to Remember
According to the CDC, this year’s respiratory virus season will be a repeat of last year, which means an uptick in hospitalizations compared with pre-pandemic seasons. For the first time in our history, there are vaccines to protect against all three viruses. Viruses like flu and RSV can have serious consequences in small children, pregnant people, and older or otherwise vulnerable individuals. If you do get sick, these vaccines will make your illness less severe. Stay home to avoid putting others at risk. Call your healthcare provider if you have severe or worsening symptoms. Also avoid others in your household to lessen their risk.
When it comes to Antigen (rapid) home tests, remember they are less accurate than PCR tests, but they can provide results in minutes, per the CDC. These tests are quick and convenient, but if you are asymptomatic or have an early-stage infection, they’re less likely to be accurate. Do not travel if your symptomatic; even if your rapid test is negative, often it will turn positive by day three to five.
Tips for Staying Safe
The holidays can be a great opportunity to spend with family and friends but also can be a stressful time. Let’s keep respiratory viruses out of it! It all starts with you, and here are some tips to decrease your risk and the risk to those around you:
- Get your flu shot.
- Get up to date on your Covid-19 vaccination.
- Over 60? Talk with your doctor about getting the RSV vaccine.
- Get your vaccines at least 2 weeks before holiday travel or gathering.
- Stay home if you have symptoms of Covid-19, Flu, or RSV
- Utilize Covid -19 testing or masking to help limit virus spread.
- Mask up if you have to fly or use public transportation.
- Take the party outside if you can.
- Filter the air indoors to reduce the risk of virus transmission.
- Open windows to increase ventilation, weather permitting.
- Take Precautions that protect the most vulnerable people in your group.
- Wash hands frequently to help prevent the spread of germs.
- Order free COVID test kits
- Find a testing or vaccine site in Baltimore City
- Find a testing or vaccine site in Baltimore County
- Find a testing or vaccine site in Harford County
From all of us at the IMAGE Center to you and your family, we wish you a happy and safe holiday season!