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Staying Healthy for Holidays as Viruses Lurk

First published in the Dec. 15 print issue of the Pasadena Outlook.

By Dr. Kimberly Shriner
Special to the Outlook

I’d like to thank everyone in our community who has received the COVID-19 vaccine and stayed up to date on boosters.
We have learned so much about this disease and, thankfully, we are in a much better stage of the pandemic than we were a year ago. Unfortunately, in many areas of the country and in our state, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are on the rise. We are also seeing the impact of an unusually early and severe flu season.
Now that the holidays are here –– a time to reconnect and resume many of the traditions we have with our friends and families –– I urge you to continue being mindful of these illnesses and help prevent the spread, particularly to those who are older adults or immuno-compromised.

Dr. Kimberly Shriner

Here are a few tips to help you and your family stay healthy this holiday season:
• Get boosted! The bivalent booster has been very effective in preventing serious illness for the omicron variant.
• Wear well-fitting masks over your nose and mouth if you are in public indoor settings, especially with large crowds.
• Avoid crowded, poorly ventilated spaces.
• Be informed. Get tested for COVID-19 if you suspect you have been infected so you can limit the spread to your family and friends. Prior to gathering, take a COVID-19 test with a high-quality PCR at a testing site or two home antigen tests on consecutive days.
• Consider hosting your celebrations outside. Outdoors is safer than indoors.
• If you are sick or have symptoms of any illness, don’t host or attend a gathering.
• Last but not least, if you aren’t feeling well, please stay home and rest.
Over the next few weeks, the Pasadena area is expecting tens of thousands of visitors. It’s important that we don’t let our guard down, and we continue to protect ourselves from the spread of COVID-19. As the only level 2 trauma center in the San Gabriel Valley and the only emergency department in Pasadena, we are preparing for this volume and anticipating long wait times.
If you are experiencing an illness that doesn’t require immediate emergency care, we recommend that you speak to your physician or visit a local urgent care facility. If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, it’s important that you seek immediate care. Call 911 or go directly to the nearest emergency department.
Wishing you good health and wellness as we safely celebrate the season.
Dr. Kimberly Shriner is medical director of infection prevention and control for Huntington Health.

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