December 20, 2022

Indiana epidemiologist has these tips for staying healthy this holiday season


It's important for people to weigh the risks of gathering and traveling over the holidays to protect both themselves and others who might be vulnerable to infection. - Justin Hicks/IPB News

It's important for people to weigh the risks of gathering and traveling over the holidays to protect both themselves and others who might be vulnerable to infection.

Justin Hicks/IPB News

This year’s winter holiday season comes as cases of flu, COVID-19 and RSV are straining hospitals. During the week ending Dec. 10, at least 45 more Hoosiers died from flu-related deaths this year – compared to the same time last year. 

Vaccines are the best line of defense against COVID-19 and the flu. But there are additional steps that can keep people stay healthy, said Tom Duszynski, director of epidemiology education at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis. 

“Masking, physical distancing, good hand washing, in lieu of, you know, getting vaccinated or not having a vaccine available. These other measures work and they work really well to minimize the spread of disease,” he said. 

Duszynski said vaccines can take two weeks before they offer full support, but it's never too late to get vaccinated. There is not a vaccine for RSV, so families with young babies, who are at greatest risk for severe illness from it, are advised to stay home if possible and stay extra cautious. 

It's important for people to weigh the risks of gathering and traveling over the holidays to protect both themselves and others who might be vulnerable to infection.

“It's not just about me, it's about all of us together,” he said. “We all live and work in communities. So it's really important that we're not only taking care of our own health, and we're on watch for other people's health as well.”

Duszynski said it is important that people stay home when sick and test if they have symptoms. 

Contact reporter Darian Benson at dbenson@wfyi.org

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