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How to Enjoy the Holidays without Getting Sick

How to Enjoy the Holidays without Getting Sick

The holidays are a time for getting together with people you don’t normally see on a regular basis. There are family gatherings, parties with friends and work events all vying for your time and attention. After the last couple of years, when socializing was curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it definitely feels good to have a full calendar this year. But one thing you have to keep in mind is that all of this socializing increases your risk of getting sick.

Let’s face it—although we’d love to think the pandemic is over, COVID-19 is here to stay. The omicron variants are helping to fuel the spread of the virus and that leaves many people open to getting infected this holiday season. COVID-19 isn’t the only illness though. The flu and other respiratory illnesses, including the common cold, are commonly spread during this time of year.

So how do you stay illness-free this holiday season while enjoying more freedom to mingle and travel than you have in a long time? Although the tips below can’t guarantee you won’t get sick, they’ll make it more likely you’ll stay healthy.

  • Get the new COVID-19 booster. A new booster was approved that protects against the original strain of the COVID-19 virus, as well as omicron variants. Recent CDC recommendations (from September 2022) are that everyone ages 12 and older get the updated booster, as long as it’s been at least two months since your last booster. No matter how many boosters you’ve had (or if you haven’t had any), it’s recommended that people get this new booster since it protects against strains of the virus that are circulating now. If you recently had COVID-19, the CDC suggests you wait three months from the time of infection before getting the new booster. Since CDC recommendations may change as more information becomes available, it’s best to talk to your family doctor if you have questions about if and when to get the updated booster.
  • Get a flu shot. The best way to protect yourself from getting the flu is to get a flu shot every year. Although this vaccine doesn’t guarantee you won’t get the flu, it has been shown to reduce the severity of illness even if you do get sick.
  • Take extra precautions. Many people have let their guard down and are no longer interested in doing the things they had been doing to avoid getting sick from COVID-19, but now is a good time to get back to pandemic habits. Washing your hands often, staying away from people who are sick and wearing a mask, especially in crowded places, not only helps protect you from COVID-19 but from all contagious illnesses. With so many more people traveling and gathering than they have in the last few years, you can’t be too careful. Keeping your immunity strong by following healthy lifestyle habits, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep, may also help keep you healthier.

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