Tips for staying healthy during the holidays

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Many viruses spread during fall and winter, including those that cause flu, COVID-19, and RSV illness. Large gatherings, crowded travel, and more time indoors can mean more viruses spreading throughout the holidays. However, this is the first year there are vaccines to protect against all three of these viruses. These vaccines prevent severe disease and can be lifesaving, ensuring you can enjoy valuable time with loved ones. If you do get sick, there are tests and treatments to help you feel better sooner. In addition, there are other actions you can take to stay healthy. Read on for an action plan to help you stay healthy during the holidays.

Get vaccinated

  • Get all recommended vaccines, including flu, COVID-19 and RSV, as soon as possible. This will give you the best protection against these respiratory diseases, including while traveling and gathering with family and friends. These vaccines will also make your illness less severe if you do get sick.
  • Everyone ages 6 months and older should get a flu and updated COVID-19 vaccine.
  • CDC recommends an RSV vaccine for some groups at higher risk for severe illness.

Take action to stop respiratory viruses from spoiling holiday cheer

  • If you are sick, stay home to avoid putting others at risk. You should also avoid others in the household to lessen their risk. If you have severe or worsening symptoms, call your healthcare provider.
  • Stay away from others who are sick, if possible. Usually, there are more droplets and particles that can make you sick closer to the person who is infected.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread easily this way.
  • Handwashing often with soap removes most germs, including respiratory viruses, from your hands. If soap and water are not available, using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can kill many germs.
  • Viral particles in the air spread between people more easily indoors than outdoors. Any way you can improve air quality, such as opening windows or using air purifiers, can help reduce the amount of virus you are exposed to.

If you do feel sick, there are tests and treatments

  • In addition to diagnostic testing, you can work with a healthcare provider to figure out the next steps you should take. Remember: antibiotics do not work on viruses. CDC has more information about antibiotic do’s and don’ts.
  • Adults: Those at higher risk of severe illness and developing symptoms including cough, fever and sore throat, should talk to their healthcare provider sooner rather than later. CDC recommends people at higher risk be treated with antiviral medications.
  • Children: Unless your child has serious underlying medical conditions, there is no specific treatment for influenza or COVID-19 and office or emergency department visits for respiratory illnesses are not necessary unless you have specific concerns including: a significant change in behavior despite giving anti-fever medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, concern about dehydration from the amount of vomiting or diarrhea, significant pain, concern about respiratory difficulty, or a fever that lasts longer than a week.

The holiday season can be stressful with all the hustle and bustle, responsibilities, and obligations. Good eating, sleeping, and exercise habits can help keep you healthy also. Be sure to make time to take care of yourself!