The holidays are here, but don’t let their dreaminess distract from making your gatherings healthy. Families eat turkey, children decorate, and friends exchange heartfelt gifts. It’s the happiest season of all. It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also peak sickness season.
Let’s start with a COVID-19 check. As you may have noticed, precautions have started lifting. But we’re not in the clear yet. Elisa Melendez, MD of Family Medicine at SCL Health Medical Group - Thornton, encouraged precaution with more vulnerable community members.
“I would say, for the most part, it’s back to normal,” said Dr. Melendez. “Still self-quarantine if you’ve been diagnosed with COVID or the flu, so you’re not getting others sick.”
Other than quarantining when sick, there are more ways to celebrate healthy holidays.
You knew it was coming, so it’s first on the list. Vaccines help keep you and others from getting sick. If possible, get your COVID booster and flu shot a couple of weeks before a family gathering. This gives the vaccines time to become effective.
During any group event, frequently wash your hands. Washing hands prevents the spread of germs and infections. If you’re hosting a gathering, consider adding festive soap to your bathroom. This will encourage guests to wash their hands and enjoy the holiday spirit!
Hold off on holding babies
With the uptick of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) this year, Dr. Melendez encouraged caution around babies and children, who are more vulnerable due to smaller lung size. If you welcomed a baby this year, consider asking extended family to avoid holding them during the holidays.
Along with hand washing, make a habit of sanitizing commonly shared household items and surfaces. Not only will this decrease the spreading of illness, but your home will sparkle like a Christmas star!
Wear a mask
While it’s not a CDC recommendation, consider asking immunocompromised guests if they prefer you wear a mask. This could be anyone in immunosuppressive therapy, an elderly family, recent post-op guests, and more.
The holidays are about quality time with family and friends. Why not maximize that time by preventing illness? “Enjoy your family, and make sure you’re aware of how you’re feeling before exposing others,” said Dr. Melendez. “And have a safe holiday!”
May your happiest season of all be the healthiest.