Layers of Protection
Ashley Jowett
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2021

Layers of Protection

Here in the northeast, we watch the weather. When the temperature drops, we put on sweatshirts, fleece-lined jeans, heavy coats, hats, boots, gloves, and scarves. During the COVID pandemic, we should also be paying attention to the level of positive tests and hospitalizations in our community. Similarly, when the COVID-19 numbers increase, we should implement additional layers of protection. At the moment, transmission is high, and hospitals are stressed with more COVID patients than usual. Here’s what you should do:

  • Polish Poet Stanislaw Jerzy Lec once said "No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible." It is similar among people who have chosen not to get vaccinated. While no one person is responsible for overloading the healthcare system, many people behaving in this way does cause a major problem. Please get vaccinated. Immunization is the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself, your loved ones, your community, and our hospital capacity. Everyone age 5 and older is eligible. And it is so easy. All of the information you need is at https://svhealthcare.org/COVID-Resource-Center.
  • Get boosted. Dr. Mark Levine shared in a press conference on Tuesday that those who are eligible but who have not yet gotten their booster shot are not fully protected. If you are 16 or older and received your second Pfizer or Moderna vaccine more than 6 months ago or your Johnson & Johnson more than 2 months ago, you are eligible. Boosters, unlike third doses, are not just for those who are older or immune compromised. They are for everyone—healthy or not—who is 16 and older. Get additional information at https://svhealthcare.org/COVID-Resource-Center.
  • When you are making plans to gather, know the vaccination and booster status of everyone joining you. Keep your gatherings small and among fully vaccinated and boosted people. Otherwise, you are putting yourself and those with you at risk.
  • Mask when with those outside your household. You should be masked when with anyone who is unvaccinated, unboosted, or whose vaccination status you do not know.
  • Keep the most vulnerable people in your social circle in mind. Those who are unvaccinated, those who are elderly, and those who are immune compromised are at increased risk of a serious case of the Delta variant. Even younger people in these groups are being hospitalized. When they do end up in the hospital, many are surprised that COVID is as serious as it is.
  • Consider testing before attending an event and afterwards to ensure that you are not infected at either time. The state is working to increase availability to testing kits. The most reliable tests, the PCR type, are available at SVHC’s COVID Resource Center. Visit https://svhealthcare.org/COVID-Resource-Center for details.
  • If you or someone in your family comes down with symptoms, cancel your plans and get tested. Period.
  • Make a plan that allows you to comply as closely as possible to recommendations if you test positive.
  • All of these steps are highly likely to protect against the latest variant: Omicron.

Just like no one warm piece of clothing is going to keep you comfortable during a Nor’easter, no one of these actions will protect you from COVID. Right now, during this blizzard of infection, we need them all. Please join me in “layering up” for your own safety and for the safety of your community. 

Marie George, MD, FIDSA, is the infectious disease specialist at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, part of Southwestern Vermont Health Care, in Bennington. 

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