Public health experts have been warning of a “tripledemic” of respiratory viruses this fall and winter, so the American Lung Association has some tips for breathing easier this holiday season.
Flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID-19 are all spreading throughout the United States, overwhelming health care systems.
One way to make holiday or seasonal gatherings safer is to make sure you're vaccinated, the lung association recommends in a news release. Get both your updated COVID-19 shots and your flu shots, available for those 6 months old and up. The new COVID booster should provide additional protection against recently spreading variants and subvariants.
Consider doing an at-home COVID test before large gatherings to help prevent the spread of the virus. Most insurances will pay for the average $25 cost of a two-pack self-test.
Don't go to the party if you're sick. Stay home whether you have symptoms of COVID, flu or another virus. Test immediately. Call your health care provider to find out what treatment options might help you if you're high-risk.
If you do travel, make sure you pack your medications and mask in your carry-on, not in checked luggage. The mask can help protect you or someone who is immunocompromised and prefers you wear one.
As always, wash your hands often, scrubbing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol as an alternative. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose, the lung association recommends. Touching your face can allow germs from your hands to enter your body and cause infection.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on COVID-19 and flu.
SOURCE: American Lung Association, news release