Winter break is a great time to relax and recharge with family and friends. Unfortunately, it’s also a great time to contract one of many respiratory viruses. This year, influenza is proving to be especially virulent, and COVID continues to affect many. Additionally, hospitals in the U.S. and worldwide are seeing a surge in RSV cases, a virus that is usually milder in adults but can be deadly to babies and the elderly.
As you gather for holiday celebrations and gatherings, consider these tips to keep yourself and others safe:
- Vaccination is the best protection you can offer yourself and others. If you are medically able, please consider getting the flu vaccine and the COVID vaccine and boosters. They are available through the Student Health Center or most pharmacies and health care providers. Since it takes a couple weeks to reach maximum immunity, get the vaccine as soon as possible to have the best protection over the holidays. While the vaccines may not keep you from contracting the viruses, they will help keep symptoms milder.
- Masks offer additional protection against many illnesses. Consider wearing one when attending large gatherings or being around others, especially if you or those you are with are showing symptoms of being sick or if you are going to be around babies or the elderly.
- Wash your hands often to prevent a multitude of sicknesses. Make sure to use soap and wash for 20 seconds – singing the happy birthday song to yourself, or anyone else of your choice, twice should get the job done.
- Carry hand sanitizer with you. If you can’t wash your hands, it’s a good alternative.
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow or into a tissue – not into your hand. Eww.
- And stay home if you are ill. Everyone will thank you!