How to avoid getting sick this winter

January 28, 2022 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

It’s that time of year again. The days are shorter and colder and we're stuck inside most of the time. And, unfortunately, it's cold and flu season. Plus, we're still trying to protect ourselves from COVID-19 as the pandemic drags on.

There are some habits to help you stay well this winter and prevent the spread of illness. Discuss these with your family and especially children, as well as their caregivers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) breaks down basic stay-healthy tips everyone should know:

  • Avoid close contact. Stay away from people who are sick. When you are sick, stay home when needed, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too. Learn the latest COVID-19 quarantine and isolation recommendations.

  • Clean your hands. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Be sure to scrub your hands with lather for at least 20 seconds, then rinse under running water.

  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches a surface or object that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth. Don’t cover a cough with your hand. Use a tissue or your elbow or sleeve.

  • Mask up in public. The latest COVID-19 variant, omicron, has proven to be the most contagious version. So contagious that the CDC has recommended people wear the most protective mask they can find. Learn the latest mask recommendations.

  • Clean and disinfect. Clean high-touch surfaces regularly, including doorknobs, light switches, handles, phones, keyboards and faucets.

  • Get a flu shot. Of course, a flu shot is one of the best preventive measures you can take to stay healthy through the winter. Healthy people should get flu shots. It improves their chances of avoiding the flu, and if they do get sick (the flu vaccine doesn’t guarantee they won’t), their bodies will be better equipped to fight off the virus.

  • Get vaccinated against COVID-19. If you haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19, it is important that you do. The COVID-19 vaccine is the safest and smartest way to protect yourself from COVID-19. Schedule your vaccine or booster shot today.

  • Practice other good health habits. Get enough sleep, be physically active, stay well hydrated and eat well. A well-rested person who eats nutritious food and exercises will have a stronger immune system.

Anyone older than 6 months should have a flu shot, but especially pregnant women, people age 65 and older, and those with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes. There’s also a high-dose shot for people 65 and over because our immune system weakens as we age.

Everyone over age 65 and those with chronic medical conditions should also get both pneumonia vaccines. There are two types: pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (Prevnar13) and pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (Pneumovax). These vaccines cover different types of bacteria that cause pneumonia, and are given one at a time, at least one year apart.

The COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for ages 5 and older, including booster doses for ages 12 and older. Vaccines may not prevent you from getting exposed to the virus. However, they do provide immunity that can clear the virus, making it less likely you’ll get infected. The COVID-19 vaccine also greatly reduces the chance of severe illness requiring hospitalization or resulting in death. 

Be vigilant and you’ll get through this winter with minimal discomfort.

Learn how to protect yourself from a double whammy of flu and COVID-19.

Edward-Elmhurst Health has COVID-19 vaccine appointments available to ages 5 and older. It is easy to schedule a vaccine appointment. You do not need a MyChart account. Schedule your COVID-19 vaccine now.

Flu vaccines are available through your primary care physician. Contact your doctor’s office to schedule your flu shot. Find a doctor.

Our walk-in locations also offer flu shots. No appointment needed. Walk in any time. Find a walk-in location near you.

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