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The Best Defense for Fall Illnesses is Prevention

Once again, cold and flu season is upon us. Each year, it varies in length but usually lasts from October through May. It’s important this year to have a good offense against getting sick since flu is not the only illness to be concerned about - COVID-19 virus and an unusual increase of Respiratory Syncytial Virus or RSV has been circulating since August.

While there are no current vaccines against RSV or the common cold, the best defense we have to fight the flu and COVID-19 is getting vaccinated. According to the CDC, these two vaccines can be administered at the same time, not only providing dual protection, but also making it really convenient. Although getting the flu and/or COVID-19 vaccine shot doesn’t completely prevent you from getting sick, they are effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death. COVID-19 vaccine is widely accessible for everyone aged 12 years and older. For the flu, children 6 months and up are eligible for vaccination, and those vaccinations are available right now at pediatrician offices, pharmacies, primary care providers and at your local health department.

In addition, many of the steps taken to protect yourself from COVID-19, such as wearing a mask and social distancing, has also proven to help you avoid the RSV, the common cold and the flu. In fact, these may have even helped shorten the length of the cold and flu season last year and decreased the number of people affected. We can all take these steps again this year to reduce risk:

· Stay home when feeling sick

· Avoid large events and mass gatherings

· Avoid close contact (within 6 feet) with anyone outside your household, especially if you have a higher risk of serious illness

· Wash your hands often with soap and water

· Wear a face mask when you’re in indoor public spaces

· Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when coughing or sneezeing

· Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth

· Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces, such as doorknobs, light switches, electronics and counters

As the temperature drops, and mask mandates loosen, prepare for this winter's triple threat by getting vaccinated and practice safe prevention.

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