Four Things You Can Do to Keep Your Family Safe During This Year's Cold and Flu Season
Cold and flu season is upon us—and COVID-19 is here to stay. The winter months will present new and difficult challenges for families across the country, say experts predicting a "twindemic." It's a nerve-wracking time to say the least, but there are some things you can do to keep your family as safe as possible. Here, Dr. Caesar Djavaherian, the co-founder and chief clinical innovation officer of Carbon Health, explains what you need to do combat cold and flu season in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.
Boost Your Immunity
First things first, says Dr. Djavaherian: Make sure your entire family gets their flu shots. This year, it is more important than ever to get as many people across the country vaccinated as possible. "Each year, the flu season strains the health system because of the increasing number of people who become ill," he says. "With SARS-CoV-2 causing an even greater degree of strain on [hospitals], access to quality healthcare may be harder to obtain." A community achieves herd immunity when enough people get their flu shot ("Your chance of getting the flu is significantly reduced when you get the shot," he explains). People with underlying conditions should be even more vigilant about getting available vaccinations on time and adhering to preventive measures.
Make your and your kids' personal hygiene a priority: Wash your hands (especially before you eat and handle food), avoid touching your mouth, and carry sanitizing wipes during essential outings. "Similarly to COVID-19 precautions, avoid handshakes and other acts of physical touch with people you do not live with," adds Dr. Djavaherian, who says you also need to take time for yourself. "Stress is known to weaken the immune system, causing a higher risk of catching the cold or flu," he notes.
Keep Your Distance
If your spouse or child falls ill with a cold or the flu, Dr. Djavaherian suggests doing what you can to keep your distance from them while they're actively ill. "While that's not always possible, [you should] wash your hands frequently and sanitize surfaces throughout the day and continue to wear masks—not just you but, more importantly, the sick individual." When you clean, follow the instructions on sanitizing products to ensure they're removing germs effectively.
Monitor the "Twindemic"
This year's cold and flu season will hit in tandem with COVID-19, so it's especially important to avoid the large social gatherings we typically participate during this time, says Dr. Djavaherian. "This includes Thanksgiving dinners, holiday parties, and New Year's celebrations—though there are ways of enjoying the holidays safely," he says, adding that virtual events can be special, too. Other must-dos? "Maintain a six-foot distance from others, wear masks, and frequently sanitize your hands—but most importantly, do not share any foods with people outside of your pod," he adds.