Flu season is among us amid the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic. As chilly temperatures arrive and venues reopen, the White House’s Dr. Cameron Webb gave rolling out some protocols to take this winter against viral diseases.
How should people prepare for flu season with the anticipated COVID spike on the way?
I think there’s a statement we use, “When you know better, you do better.” What’s really clear is this time of year, whether it’s colds, the flu or RSV you may have heard of, respiratory syncytial virus. There’s a lot of that going around with kids and then [with] COVID, these are all viral upper respiratory infections. They are all much better at infecting people this time of year. Your body’s natural way of defending against them is not quite as effective in colder weather. You’re already at a disadvantage because for these viruses, this is their time to do their thing.
You have to make sure you have all the tools that you need to protect yourself. We can start by talking about the vaccines that are giving your body immunological protection. I’ve gotten the flu vaccine 17 years in a row, since I started medical school. It’s important to have that flu shot every year as part of your package of what keeps you safe in these months.
[As for] the COVID vaccine, similarly, if you haven’t had one in the past year, it’s the right time to get another shot to give your body the best protection heading into this season.
These viruses can really mess up the next couple of months for you. They can make you miss holidays with family, [and] work at a critical time when you’re trying to be able to afford whatever you’re going to buy for folks for Christmas. These are really important weeks and months ahead, and you don’t want them disrupted by a virus that you can prevent.
In addition to the vaccines, you got to keep reminding folks, the masks that we’ve been talking about for a couple of years didn’t go away. You can still use masks, especially if you’re in spaces where there’s a higher risk of getting COVID-19, so take advantage of that. Make sure you incorporate that. Just like you bring an umbrella when it’s raining, you bring a mask if you’re in a space where there’s more risk of getting COVID, make sure you have at-home tests you can use before you go see grandma because you want to make sure you’re keeping people safe around you.
If you know better, you do better. We know all of those things are important to how you navigate these next couple of months. The question is, “Are we going to do better?” My belief, my hope, is that we will.