December is characterized by parties and gatherings with family and loved ones indoors, which puts us at greater risk of catching respiratory diseases such as the flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID-19.
Although health authorities have relaxed some measures to reduce the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses, it is important that we continue to protect ourselves because, on average, each day about 5,000 people become infected with COVID-19 and about 300 die because of COVID-19 in the United States.
To take care of ourselves and enjoy the festivities, we share some recommendations to reduce the risk of contracting and spreading a respiratory disease during Christmas and New Year’s. Keep in mind that immunocompromised people (those with weakened immune systems) are more likely to get sick and die from COVID-19.
Keep up to date with your vaccinations.
Vaccination has been shown to be effective in preventing more severe disease. To keep up with your COVID-19 vaccines, you should have completed a primary series of COVID-19 vaccination and have received the most recent booster dose. To find a COVID-19 vaccine or booster dose, visit vaccines.gov.
Take measures prior to gathering.
Consider wearing a facemask, preferably N95, in public places to reduce the possibility of contagion and practice social distancing if necessary. Facemasks are designed to contain droplets and particles you produce when breathing, coughing or sneezing.
Take a quick COVID-19 home test.
Consider taking a rapid COVID-19 test before you gather. If the result is positive, you are most likely infectious and should stay home. Learn about the iHealth and BinaxNOW brand testing steps here. Get free at-home COVID-19 tests this winter: https://www.covid.gov/tests
Note that people with symptoms should also stay home, even if they receive negative results on a rapid test. COVID-19 is not the only infectious disease of concern: influenza and RSV have been in high circulation in recent weeks.
Ventilate indoor spaces.
Open windows indoors to improve ventilation (circulating air indoors, outdoors, or within a room). To increase airflow, you can place a fan in front of the window, facing outward. By doing this, you help prevent virus particles from accumulating in the air in enclosed spaces.
For the safety of everyone, you may consider limiting the gathering to people who have received the flu and COVID-19 vaccine, preferably including the updated booster dose.
Do you have questions about COVID-19 and your labor rights? SOL can help you at covid-chat.org.
To learn more about influenza vaccines, visit CDC's website: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/season/faq-flu-season-2022-2023.htm