SACRAMENTO – As we enter winter and the holiday season, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) urges Californians to protect themselves and their families against many circulating viruses this holiday season, including the flu, COVID-19, and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).
“Our winter virus season is here early, especially for our kids. We are seeing stress on our clinics and hospitals that care for kids, especially infants and kids under 12,” said State Public Health Officer and CDPH Director Dr. Tomás Aragón. “It’s important to remember that kids get infected from other kids and adults, so everyone needs to do their part. As we head into the holiday season with more indoor gatherings and travel, there are five easy steps that can help keep you and your family healthy.”
Dr. Aragón’s five tips to protect yourself and others from severe illness and hospitalization include:
- Get Vaccinated, Boosted (and Treated)
Flu and COVID-19 vaccines continue to be your best defense to limit severe illness and death – and you can get both at the same time. If you test positive for COVID-19, contact your doctor or a test-to-treat site immediately to seek treatment. Treatments work best when started right after symptoms begin.
- Stay Home if You’re Sick!
It’s crucial to stay home if you are feeling ill. Avoid close contact with others to protect them, and take the time you need to heal. This is especially important for respiratory viruses like the flu, RSV and COVID-19, which can lead to more severe illness.
- Wear a Mask
There is no vaccine for RSV, so wearing a mask can significantly slow the spread and protect babies and young children who do not yet have immunity and are too young to wear a mask themselves. Wearing a mask in indoor public places is a good way to limit the spread of germs.
- Wash Your Hands
Your mom was right: frequent handwashing, with soap and warm water – for at least 20 seconds, is an easy way to prevent getting sick and spreading germs.
- Cover Your Cough or Sneeze
Remember to cough or sneeze into your elbow, your arm, or a disposable tissue to help prevent the spread of winter viruses. Just make sure to wash your hands or sanitize and dispose of your tissue after.
CDPH continues to monitor hospitalizations related to winter respiratory viruses, including flu, COVID-19, and RSV, as well as trends across the country and state. With many viruses already circulating at high levels in California, it is important to take these measures to ensure our hospitals have capacity to care for all vulnerable Californians, including babies and children, who need lifesaving treatment.