The holiday season is upon us, and while you may be preparing for festive gatherings with loved ones, many medical professionals are bracing for another “tripledemic” season of COVID-19, flu and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus).
Nobody wants to be sidelined by these respiratory viruses—especially during the holidays—so start following these six prevention steps now to help your family stay healthy during the most wonderful time of the year.
1. Talk to your doctor about vaccines.
There are vaccines available for COVID-19, the flu and, for seniors, some pregnant women and infants, RSV. Most doctors say it’s okay to get your flu and COVID vaccines at the same time, but suggest getting your RSV shot separately.
In general, doctors suggest getting these shots sooner rather than later, because virus activity is already picking up. However, if you’ve recently been infected with COVID, some experts say you may want to wait three to six months before getting a booster.
If you’re unsure what vaccines you should receive—and the timing of when you should receive them—then talk to your doctor and develop a vaccine schedule that will help maximize your protection.
Check out this game plan for timing your flu, COVID and RSV shots this fall for more information.
2. Practice good hand hygiene.
Handwashing is one of your best lines of defense in protecting yourself and your family from getting sick. Be sure to lather up your hands with soap and scrub them together for at least 20 seconds and rinse under running water for maximum cleansing.
Get more hand hygiene tips from the CDC.
3. Stock up on sick-day essentials.
Are your medicine cabinet and pantry ready for the tripledemic? Ensure you’re fully stocked so you don’t have to drag yourself out when you’re feeling miserable (and risk getting others sick!). Here are some items you may want to procure, but be sure to talk to your doctor if you have high blood pressure or other conditions that may affect what medications you can safely take.
- At-home COVID tests
- Pulse oximeter
- Pain and fever reducer
- Cough medicines
- A respiratory remedy
- Throat lozenges
- Saline rinses
- Hand sanitizer and antibacterial soap
- Electrolyte drinks
- Heating pad
- Cold compress
- Cool mist humidifier
Visit covid.gov/tests to get four free at-home COVID-19 tests.
4. Get tested if you’re feeling sick.
If you’re under the weather, get tested so you know what you’re dealing with. With a proper diagnosis, you’ll better know how to treat your symptoms, and you can take steps to avoid transmission to others.
5. Stay home if you’re sick.
The tripledemic viruses are all very contagious, and staying home when you’re sick is the best way to avoid spreading your germs to others. Stay home as long as you have severe symptoms, and at least 24 hours after your fever goes away.
Learn more about how long to stay home here.
6. Wear a mask if you have symptoms and must go out.
If it’s necessary for you to leave the house when you’re sick—for medical care or other urgent reasons—then be sure to wear a mask.
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