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Preventing the Spread of Covid-19 During Winter Months

Monday , October 19 , 2020

Preventing the Spread of Covid-19 During Winter Months

As we near winter in North America where the Covid-19 pandemic is still raging, one thing has become glaringly obvious: Cold weather will make things much, much worse.

Historically, viruses like the seasonal flu peak during the late fall and winter months (last year in the U.S., there were 40 times more cases in the fall and winter than during the spring and summer). If Covid-19 follows the same pattern, we could be facing at least another 300,000 deaths in the U.S. in coming months.

Though these numbers are scary, there are several steps you can take to help protect yourself and others during the coming months.

Keep reading for some simple tips and tricks:

 

Prevent Getting Sick

Covid-19 is thought to spread person-to-person, mainly through respiratory droplets in the air. Unfortunately, the dry winter atmosphere makes it possible for those droplets to remain in the air for longer periods of time – even after the sick individual has left the room.

The best way to avoid getting ill is to stay in your home and limit face-to-face interactions with other people as much as possible. Since that is not always feasible, help keep yourself safe by following these simple precautions from the CDC:

  •  Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid close contact with other people, even inside your home. A distance of at least six feet (about two arms-length) is suggested.
  • Wear a face mask when in public and around others who are not a part of your household. Continue to keep a six-foot distance between yourself and others, even when wearing a mask.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the crook of your elbow. Immediately wash your hands after coughing or sneezing.
  • Minimize social gatherings – Stay connected with friends and family who don’t live in your home by calling, using video chat, or interacting on social media.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces (phones, doorknobs, light switches, etc.) daily with soap and water and then an approved disinfectant.
  • Get a flu shot to help save health resources for those infected with Covid-19 and to help protect yourself from the seasonal flu.

Beware “Covid Fatigue”

As we near our second year of the pandemic, many people feel like they have “done enough” to protect themselves from the virus. They’ve spent months social distancing, wearing a mask, and working from home. And they’re tired of it.

Officials are dubbing this phenomenon “Covid Fatigue” – and they’re warning the public to remain vigilant.

Dr. Claude Mellins, a medical psychologist at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, says that it’s important to keep in mind that this isn’t forever. “We’re gonna get through this,” she said. “That’s the first message of any disaster. It doesn’t mean we’re not going to be unchanged, but we will get through it.”

As we try to navigate the next few months, it’s important to keep Dr. Mellins words in mind. Getting through this winter certainly won’t be easy, but knowing there is an end in site will make it more bearable.

Stay safe and keep healthy.

Posted in: Aging

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Why the Flu Shot is Especially Important This Year

Monday , August 31 , 2020

Why the Flu Shot is Especially Important This Year

This autumn, doctors and healthcare systems will be dealing with two circulating viruses: the novel coronavirus and influenza.

It’s fair to say that flu season is going to look a lot different as the country struggles to control a coronavirus pandemic that has already killed more than 191,000 people.

Many Americans are reluctant to visit a doctor’s office or even to walk into a pharmacy for fear of being exposed to germs – but by getting the flu shot, you can effectively help doctors take one problem off the table.

What is Influenza?

Although sometimes thought of as “just a bad cold,” the flu kills tens of thousands of people in the U.S. every year. Often, the very young, the elderly, and those with underlying conditions are the most vulnerable.

Symptoms include fever, chills, muscle aches, cough, congestion, runny nose, headaches, and fatigue. In more serious cases, severe dehydration, chest pressure, and shortness of breath may occur.

When coupled with the effects of Covid-19, experts say the flu could be more dangerous than ever.

A Flu Vaccine is the Best Protection Against Flu 

The power of the flu vaccine is twofold.

According to the Henry Ford Health System, if enough young, healthy people get vaccinated, they can help protect high-risk groups through something called “herd immunity.” In layman’s terms, the more people that get the flu shot, the less likely the virus is to be transmitted to others.

For those that are high-risk themselves, the flu shot is even more important. The CDC says this is especially true for adults aged 65 and older, who account for most hospitalizations and deaths from the flu each year. Because of immune system changes as we age, older adults are far more likely to experience severe flu complications compared with a younger population – and a flu shot provides the best protection.

When Should I Get My Flu Shot?

Advertising has already begun and most pharmacies already have their flu vaccines in stock, however it’s not necessary to rush out and get your shot just yet. Generally, influenza viruses start circulating in mid- to late October, but don’t reach their peak until later in the winter.

Because it takes about two weeks to build up antibodies after receiving a vaccine, the CDC recommends that older adults get the shot by the end of October.

How Effective is the Flu Shot?

Flu vaccines are developed anew each year because influenza viruses mutate. Because of this, the flu shot ranges in effectiveness each year, depending on how well scientists matched the circulating strain. Last year’s shot, for example, was estimated to be about 45% effective in preventing the flu overall.

It isn’t yet know how effective this year’s flu vaccine will be, however with people practicing social distancing and wearing masks, flu cases are expected to be fewer overall.

It is important to note, as well, that even if you still get the flu, your illness is likely to be less lengthy and severe if you have received the vaccine beforehand.

Bottom Line

Flu shots help protect you against getting the flu and make you less likely to spread it to others. By staying healthy, you’ll help keep hospitals and medical facilities from becoming overwhelmed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Posted in: Health

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Why You Should Worry About the Flu, Not Coronavirus

Monday , February 24 , 2020

Why You Should Worry About the Flu, Not Coronavirus

The Corona Virus (COVID-19) is all over the news. People around the world are worried about contracting the deadly disease.

Here, in the United States, do you need to be concerned?

Just like the common cold, COVID-19 attacks the respiratory system and causes symptoms like fever and cough.  People feel ill because they’ve never encountered this virus before and need time to build up an immunity.

But the bottom line is this: We are still in flu season and that’s a more immediate danger – especially to seniors. If you are an older adult, use these tips to help reduce the chance of getting either illness:

You Are Likely to Get Sick

As we age, our frequency of illness becomes less and less. That’s because a lifetime of sicknesses has helped build up an immunity to many common viruses and bacteria.

Still, viruses mutate all the time – that’s why you catch colds every year.

COVID-19 is in a class of viruses referred to as human coronaviruses (HCoVs) – the same type of illness that causes epidemics such as SARS and MERS. While these viruses are absolutely terrifying, they’re also generally easy to contain.

The World Health Organization constantly monitors new outbreaks of such illnesses and works with health agencies around the world to prevent pandemics. Currently, although the newest coronavirus outbreak has spread outside of China, the mortality rate has been very low.

So far, COVID-19 has causes more than 75,000 illnesses and 2,000 deaths. That may seem like a lot, but it’s nothing when compared with the flu, which has already caused an estimated 26 million illnesses and 14,000 deaths just this season.

How to Stay Healthy

The CDC recommends that all people over the age of 6 months get vaccinated against the flu. Because people aged 65 years and old are at a higher risk of developing serious complications from flu compared to younger adults, there are two vaccines designed specifically for the older population.

In addition to getting the flu shot, the CDC recommends these everyday preventative measures:

  • Avoid close contact: Avoid being in close contact with people who are sick. Likewise, if you are sick, stay home whenever possible to avoid spreading germs.
  • Wash your hands: Washing your hands is the single-most effective way to avoid sickness during cold and flu season. Sing the ABC song or Happy Birthday to ensure you’re washing for the appropriate length of time.
  • Avoid touching your face: Try to hold off on scratching your nose, putting your fingers near your eyes, picking up food with your fingers, or anything else that may put your hands near your face. Germy fingers near open orifices is one of the fastest ways to fall ill!
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces: Those with cold and flu can spread germs up to seven days after being ill. To stay safe, regularly disinfect all surfaces in your home – even if you and those around you seem well.
  • Practice good health habits: A strong, healthy body is more likely to fight off illness than one that is run down and worn. Try to eat a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep, and take measures to stay stress-free.

Posted in: Health

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