As people start to travel and gather for the holidays, it’s vitally important that we protect ourselves and others from COVID-19 and all respiratory viruses over the winter when we know people are gathering indoors, making the virus easier to spread. Most experts expect a rough winter.
There are two new subvariants of the COVID-19 virus, known as BQ.1 and BQ1.1 (derived from the BA.5 Omicron variant). They are spreading quickly; cases attributed to the new variants currently account for about 50 % of COVID cases here in the U.S.
There is a rise in COVID-19 cases in November, after a downward trend in infections over the past few months.
The good news is the bivalent COVID-19 booster shots available in the U.S. should provide protection against these variants because they are descendants from Omicron BA.2 or BA.5. This is another reason to get the bivalent booster dose as soon as eligible.
To protect yourself and your family, get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and influenza and practice hygiene measures. COVID-19 vaccines and/or boosters can be given at the same time as the flu vaccine. You are eligible for a COVID-19 bivalent booster shot if:
- You have completed a primary series of an approved COVID-19 vaccine
- It has been at least two months since you had any COVID vaccine or COVID infection
- The bivalent booster is approved for age 5 years and up
Experience has shown masking and the following hygiene measures work to protect against not only COVID-19, but other infections such as the flu, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and the common cold:
- People may choose to wear a mask at any time.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. If you are sick, limit contact with others as much as possible.
- Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way.
The bivalent COVID-19 boosters and flu shots are now available at EHE Health clinics. Convenient appointments are available now. Call 888.672.8172 to schedule.
If you are showing symptoms, we can connect you to your healthcare provider or refer you to a primary care physician. Contact our Health Navigation Center at 844.258.1820