Published On: Tue, Nov 22nd, 2022

5 Ways to Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones This Holiday Season

(StatePoint) The holidays are right around the corner, and experts are already seeing a rise in respiratory illnesses like influenza (flu) and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). In addition, COVID-19 continues to be a serious health threat in the United States.

As you gather with family and friends this holiday season, remember that one of the most important gifts you can give your loved ones is the gift of health. For a healthier, happier season, the American Lung Association offers these five tips:

1. Get your COVID-19 and flu shots: The single best way to stay healthy and protect others is to be up to date on your recommended COVID-19 vaccinations and make sure all of your loved ones – from those aged 6 months to 100+ years – are also up to date on theirs. This includes the new COVID-19 booster shot, which is expected to provide protection against the most recent variants and subvariants. It’s also time for your annual flu shot. Staying current with all your vaccinations is key to protecting your health.

2. Keep your medications and mask with you: If you are traveling, make sure to keep your regular medications and a mask with you (not in your checked luggage). It is good to have a mask on hand if you are with someone who is immunocompromised and prefers you to wear one.

3. Consider testing: Before large gatherings, consider doing an at-home COVID-19 test as an added layer of confidence that you are healthy. The average cost of a two-pack self-test at the drugstore is $25 and is covered by most insurance policies.

4. Wash your hands often: Scrub with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you’re unable to wash your hands, using hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol is a good alternative. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, as it allows the germs on your hands to reach moist, porous surface tissue where the germs can enter your body and cause infection.

5. Stay home if you’re sick: Stay home when you are feeling ill. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or flu, you should test immediately and contact your healthcare provider if you are at high risk for severe illness to discuss possible treatment options.

With COVID-19, the flu and other seasonal illnesses spreading nationwide, take steps to protect yourself and those you love to make this a happy and healthy holiday season for all.

For more information, visit Lung.org/Viruses.

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