Your Holiday To-Do List Should Include Getting Protection Against COVID

(BPT) - From the We Can Do This COVID-19 Public Education Campaign

In addition to making food, preparing shopping lists, and planning travel for the holidays, taking steps to reduce the impact of COVID on your friends, your family, and yourself should be part of your holiday to-do list.

“COVID cases are expected to rise this winter, and no one wants their holiday plans to be disrupted by illness,” said Dr. Jaime Fergie, Director of Infectious Diseases at Driscoll Children’s Hospital. “People can avoid the most severe outcomes from COVID and help protect themselves from potential long-term symptoms known as long COVID, by being current on vaccines. This means getting the initial series and an updated vaccine for targeted protection against Omicron.”

As holiday preparations begin, here are some answers to commonly asked questions about COVID and COVID vaccines:

Do I need a COVID vaccine this far into the pandemic? Yes. Even though COVID has been around for several years, it can still cause severe illness, especially to those who are not vaccinated. People ages 50 and older, and anyone with a chronic condition like diabetes, heart disease, or lung disease, is at increased risk of severe illness if they get COVID. While vaccinated people can still get COVID, vaccines provide protection against the worst outcomes.

What should I know about updated COVID vaccines? Anyone age 5 or older who has completed the primary series of a COVID vaccine and had their last dose at least two months ago should get an updated vaccine. Updated vaccines provide protection against both the original COVID virus and Omicron.

Why should I get vaccinated before the holidays? No one wants to expose vulnerable family members to COVID or miss precious time with family and friends because they are seriously ill over the holidays. Vaccines can help protect you, and since it takes a couple of weeks for the full protection to kick in, it’s a good idea to get vaccinated and get an updated vaccine as soon as you can. You should get an updated vaccine two months after your most recent vaccine dose.

What should I do if I test positive for COVID? People who are showing symptoms of COVID should stay home and test for COVID. Those who are positive should stay home for at least five days and reach out to a doctor. People who are 50 or older, or who have a chronic condition like diabetes, heart disease, or lung disease, are at higher risk and should contact a doctor at the first sign of COVID symptoms to see if they need a prescription for COVID treatment to help keep them out of the hospital. COVID is treatable with anti-viral and monoclonal antibody medications that doctors can prescribe based on how high your risk is for complications. When these medications are taken within days of the first symptoms of COVID, they work well to prevent COVID hospitalization and death.

COVID vaccines are currently free and widely available. For more information and to find a vaccine, visit www.vaccines.gov.