With holiday season gatherings, spending more time indoors as temperatures drop, and the rise of respiratory illnesses, winters in Minnesota can be tough on the body! It is a great idea to take some extra steps to keeping yourself and your community safe. Here are five tools you can add to your repertoire to reduce the time you and your loved ones stay inside recovering from illnesses.
Handwashing is a tool that we can use year-round to reduce the risk of illnesses… and winter is definitely a time to continue those practices! Effective handwashing typically lasts about 20 seconds.
Wearing a Mask
Wearing a well-fitting mask is still one of the most valuable ways to keep oneself and others safe from airborne respiratory illnesses. Some viruses can stay in the air like smoke for long periods of time, and by wearing a mask a person can limit how much of the shared air they breathe in.
N95 masks offer the most protection, but even a simple surgical mask can be effective in preventing infections.
It is not too late to get a flu shot, and we have them available at myHealth! It is also recommended that anyone get an updated COVID-19 vaccine. This isn’t a booster, but a new version of the vaccine that’s updated for the latest variants of COVID-19 such as XBB.1.5 and JN.1. If you were vaccinated before September 2023, it’s probably time to get an update! These updated vaccines reduce your chance of getting COVID-19 and reduces the severity of your symptoms if you do become infected with the virus.
If you are concerned about getting sick, consider limiting the number of events you attend. For example, if you’re counting down the days before a vacation, you might choose to cancel events or gatherings beforehand that involve exposure to many people.
Staying Home when Sick
Sometimes despite all our efforts, we still get sick. Whether it’s a sore throat, a runny nose, a fever, or a positive COVID-19 test, staying home when experiencing any illness is helpful for recovery, and respectful to your community. What is just a cold for one person could lead to serious illness in another. The quicker we are to stay home, the less likely it is to infect others. The more people who stay home when sick, the less like you are to get sick in return!
Not every method of reducing transmission of viruses may seem appropriate to your situation, but all of them are important tools to have ready to control the spread of illnesses. Your work of prevention doesn’t just benefit you, but the whole community. Immune-compromised, disabled, or otherwise vulnerable people have the most to lose to winter viruses and benefit greatly from our vigilance. If you have any questions about the transmissions of disease, you can always call myHealth at 952-474-3251 and ask to speak to a nurse.