Thanksgiving is right around the corner and with it comes feasts of food, fall festivities, and the flocking of family. However, the gathering of loved ones also raises the risk of transmitting respiratory illnesses like the flu, RSV, and COVID-19.
In a respiratory virus season that’s shaping up to be more severe than expected, it’s important that we keep safety in mind.
To help, we’ve put together a few things you should keep in mind as you head into Turkey Day.
Make sure you and your loved ones are up to date on both flu and COVID-19 vaccines/boosters.
Still need to get vaccinated? You can visit the University Employee Health Clinic between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday to receive your vaccinations.
Patients and members of the community can schedule a vaccine through MyChart or by visiting uihc.org/flu-shot.
Skip the gathering if you or someone else is feeling unwell
Many of us look forward to the holidays and the time spent with our families. But if you or someone else is feeling unwell, you risk transmitting an illness to your loved ones.
If you’re feeling unwell, play it safe and skip the gathering in order to protect yourself and your family.
Wash your hands frequently
Whether you’re preparing food or not, it’s important that you frequently clean your hands—either by washing them with soap and water or using hand sanitizer.
Be sure to clean your hands before preparing food as well as before and after eating.
Although this can be tough at family gatherings, try to avoid crowding when possible. This will help limit the transmission of germs and lower the risk of contracting an illness.
If your family attends an indoor event, try to keep yourself and your loved ones away from larger crowds.
Protect young children
For some respiratory illnesses—like RSV—young children are especially vulnerable. With no RSV vaccine yet available, it’s important to remember to try and avoid cuddling, hugging, and kissing young children. We know you love them but refraining from these actions can help limit the spread of germs and better protect them.
If you have a newborn, you may consider limiting visitors during RSV season. Ensure any visitors are healthy, wash their hands when they enter your house and before holding the baby, and refrain from kissing your baby. You might also ask visitors to wear a mask to further reduce risk.
Limit sharing of cups or utensils
Do not share cups or utensils.
This is always a best practice as it limits the transmission of germs and bacteria that can cause illness.
Cover your cough
If you have to cough, make sure to practice the “vampire cough” and tuck your hand into your chest and cough into the crook of your elbow.
You may also consider wearing a face mask to help prevent the spread of germs and bacteria.
It’s a good idea to wash your hands—or use hand sanitizer—immediately following your cough.
Disinfect high-touch surfaces
Use disinfectant sprays and wipes frequently to kill any germs that may be lurking on high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs and handles, light switches, and cabinets.