A Healthy Holiday
Ashley Jowett
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2022

A Healthy Holiday

With more tools to protect ourselves and those we love from COVID-19, we have better opportunities to gather and celebrate compared with any year since the pandemic started. Here’s a big list of things we need to remember to make the 2022 holiday season our best in years.

Tool #1: Handwashing
This is the oldest infection-prevention method, but it is still the best. Use
proper handwashing every wash, every day to decrease your risk of all sorts of infections. Disinfecting commonly touched surfaces regularly is also a good method to prevent illness year round.

Tool #2: Vaccines
Vaccines and updated boosters for COVID-19 make cases of COVID far milder for those who are vaccinated than for those who are not. Flu shots and pneumonia vaccine (for those who are eligible) also decrease your risk of serious illness after holiday gatherings.

Tool #3: COVID Tests
There are three situations when you might want to take a COVID test: if you are feeling sick, if you have spent time with someone who you discover has COVID, and if you plan to get together with someone who is vulnerable to a serious case of COVID. If you test positive, isolate for 5 days. The day you test positive is day zero. As long as you are feeling better, you can go back to work or school while wearing a mask for 5 additional days.

Tool #4: A Good Sense of When to Stay Home
If you are feeling sick, even if your COVID test negative, stay home. You could have any number of other illnesses that circulate this time of year, including the common cold, the flu, or RSV. You don’t want to pass any of them on. RSV is especially dangerous for infants. It can lead to hospitalization and death.

Tool #5: COVID Data
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID Community Level provides a great look at how many people are affected in your area or a place you would like to visit. If COVID levels are high and people are taking few precautionary measures, you may want to rethink plans to go to a concert or a movie theater, for instance. 

Other Tools:
All of the tools we used at the beginning of the pandemic—including wearing masks, meeting outside, and ventilating indoor areas—still work to decrease the risk of transmission. Use them as needed to keep yourself, your family, and friends healthy.

Donna Barron, RN, is the infection preventionist at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, part of Southwestern Vermont Health Care, in Bennington.

 

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