Written by: Mary Anne Peck, Mary Anne Peck: Writing and Workshops
The holiday season is a wonderful time of joy with friends and family. However, with the increases in travel and large events, the holidays can bring heightened risks of disease and infection.
If you and your family are trying to avoid COVID-19, RSV, and flu during the holidays, there are several steps you can take to reduce your risk.
KNOW THE SYMPTOMSThe symptoms of flu, COVID, and RSV include fever, muscle soreness, coughing, headaches, sore throat, runny nose, and digestive difficulties. Individuals with COVID may also temporarily lose their ability to taste or smell.
If you start to exhibit any of these symptoms, you can take an at-home test to rule out COVID, or you can visit the LBJ Emergency Room or a DOH Clinic to talk with a doctor.
STAY UP-TO-DATE ON VACCINESVaccinations are powerful tools that help your immune system respond to disease. However, vaccinations, such as the flu and COVID-19 vaccines, need to be regularly updated to continue to work effectively.
If you haven’t visited a medical clinic yet for this year’s vaccinations, visiting before you attend any Christmas or New Year’s celebrations can help keep you and your family safe from disease.
In American Samoa, our community can visit any of the DOH clinics or the LBJ Hospital for vaccinations.
WEAR A MASKSince the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, mask-wearing has become a common practice for avoiding illness. If you are worried about attending a large holiday party, church service, or family gathering, masks can provide you with some peace of mind.
Looking to incorporate some holiday cheer into your mask-wearing? Try wearing a holiday themed cloth mask over your medical, KN95, or N95 mask!
Please remember, in order for a face mask to effectively protect against disease, it must fully cover your mouth and nose.
DISINFECT HANDS AND SURFACESAs you enjoy the holiday events with your family, there are several steps you can take to disinfect yourself and your surroundings, such as:
Outdoor events create an environment where everyone has ample space to move around without being too close to other attendees. This space helps reduce the risk of contracting COVID or the flu.
SET BOUNDARIES If you are hosting a holiday party, one way to ensure your safety and the safety of your loved ones is to set clear boundaries. This can include asking loved ones to stay home if they have any symptoms of the flu or COVID. You can also ask for people to take a rapid COVID test before coming over for the Secret Santa.
VIRTUAL ALTERNATIVES FOR HOLIDAY PARTIESIf you are sick, then consider some virtual alternatives that can help you to spend time with friends and family as you recover. Messaging apps, texting, phone calls, and video conferencing all offer ways for us to connect with others and spread holiday cheer, even when we can’t meet face-to-face.
LET’S WORK TOGETHER TO KEEP OUR COMMUNITY HEALTHY!Caring for our community this holiday means more than picking the perfect presents and cooking delicious food. We can work together to keep our community healthy and safe this Christmas by updating our vaccinations, practicing social distancing, and wearing masks whenever we can. These simple steps go a long way in protecting the most vulnerable members of our community and can help us all to have a wonderful holiday.
Written by staff or Alliance Partners