Tips to Keep Kids and Families Healthy This Holiday Season

As respiratory viruses rise, American Lung Association offers advice

The weather is cooling off, holiday lights are going up and unfortunately, respiratory viruses like influenza (flu), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID-19 are increasing. As families gather for the holidays, the American Lung Association provides tips to keep kids and families healthy this winter. 

“During this season of festive events, it is important to remember that certain people are at a higher risk of severe illness from respiratory illnesses like young kids, older adults and people living with chronic lung disease. That is why it is important for everyone to be up to date on their vaccinations, including a seasonal flu shot and an updated COVID-19 vaccine,” said Albert Rizzo, MD, Chief Medical Officer for the American Lung Association. “In addition to flu, RSV and COVID-19, we are seeing some localized increases in cases of atypical pneumonia, also known as walking pneumonia, in kids. Unlike flu, RSV and COVID-19, there isn’t a vaccine for walking pneumonia, so it is critical for parents to keep their child home if they are sick.”

Here are five tips to help keep your family healthy this holiday season: 

  1. Get your COVID-19 and flu shots (and RSV shot if eligible): The best way to stay healthy and protect others is to be up to date on your recommended COVID-19 vaccinations and make sure all of your loved ones – from those aged 6 months to 100+ years – are also up to date on theirs. The updated COVID-19 shot is expected to provide protection against the most recent variants and subvariants. It’s also time for your annual flu shot. This year for the first time, RSV vaccines are available for adults 60 and older and for individuals who are pregnant between weeks 32-36 of pregnancy to protect newborns born during RSV season. There is also a preventive antibody to help protect babies against RSV. Staying current with all your vaccinations is key to protecting your health.
  2. Order free COVID-19 tests: The government is providing at least four free COVID-19 tests per household. People can order these at CovidTests.gov. It is good to have tests on hand so if you or someone in your household starts having symptoms that could be COVID-19, you can test right away.
  3. Keep your medications and mask with you: If you are traveling, make sure to keep your regular medications and a high-quality mask with you (not in your checked luggage). It is good to have a mask on hand if you are or will be with someone who is immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease and prefers you to wear one. 
  4. Wash your hands often: Scrub with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you’re unable to wash your hands, using hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol is a good alternative. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, as it allows the germs on your hands to reach moist, porous surface tissue where the germs can enter your body and cause infection. 
  5. Stay home if you’re sick: Stay home when you are feeling ill. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or flu, you should test immediately and contact your healthcare provider if you are at high risk for severe illness to discuss possible treatment options. 

With RSV, the flu, COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses spreading nationwide, take steps to protect yourself and those you love to make this a happy and healthy holiday season for all. For more information, visit Lung.org/Viruses.

For more information, contact:

Jill Dale
312-940-7001
[email protected]

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