The world was caught by surprise with the rapid onset of the COVID-19 virus that evolved into a global pandemic. Leading pharmaceutical firms developed protective vaccines in record time with the initial shots being provided to our senior population. Medicare coverage for COVID-19 vaccine continues to be provided at no cost to everyone enrolled in the program. This cost-free vaccination practice also includes the COVID-19 booster shots when they become available.
Unlike the annual flu season, the COVID-19 virus is not confined to a season. But, like the varying strains of the seasonal flu, the original coronavirus has recently evolved with several different variants of COVID-19. The Delta variant spreads faster and is more contagious than the other known COVID-19 variants. While the initial vaccinations provide some protection against variants, any infection of the virus or its variants lessen your internal protective shield.
While the medical field is working diligently to gain control over the spread of the emerging variants, there are practical safety precautions that you can take to protect yourself and your family from the new COVID-19 strains.
6 Ways to Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones from COVID-19 Variants
1. Get Vaccinated: Getting vaccinated is the best way to reduce your risk of getting either the original COVID-19 or any of the variants. If you have a caregiver, make sure that this person has been vaccinated. Encourage all eligible members of your family to get vaccinated. This will lessen the risk of infection when you are all together. Remember that there is no out-of-pocket cost for the Medicare coverage for COVID-19 vaccine and COVID-19 booster vaccines. As with any medical situation, always talk with your personal health care provider if you have concerns about getting a vaccine or if you have health issues that may prevent you from being vaccinated.
2. Wear Masks: Wearing a well-fitted mask while away from home helps to keep you protected from contracting a virus from strangers. Being vaccinated is no guarantee that you will not become infected so use a mask as a helpful tool at all indoor locations as well as an outdoor aide when you are socializing with strangers. Public events, open-air markets, and large family celebrations that bring people together from many different areas can increase the risk of spreading the virus. Be sure to wash your re-usable masks every day that you wear one. Remember that disposable masks are meant to be worn only once. Throw the paper masks away after each use and replace them with a fresh mask for the next use.
3. Personal Hygiene: Continue to use hand sanitizers or wash your hands frequently whether you are protecting yourself or your family members from the original COVID-19 virus or any of the variants. Another approach to maintaining clean hands is to wear latex gloves when outside of your home.
4. Travel Away from Home: Whether you are using public transportation or driving your own vehicle to another city or state, take the time to learn if your destination is in a COVID-19 or COVID-19 variant hotspot. You may decide to reschedule your trip if that area is experiencing an unusual increase in COVID-19 positive cases.
5. Keep Surfaces Clean: We have all become conscious about cleaning surface areas frequently since the pandemic began. You need to maintain this protective cleaning habit because you and your family members will touch your nose or mouth throughout the day and then touch various surfaces. Keeping those surfaces disinfected will help to reduce the risk of a virus infection.
6. Question Visitors: Most of us have been asked about our personal health conditions, whether we have been around anyone who has the COVID-19 virus, and where we have recently traveled outside of the local area when visiting offices or requesting home repair services. Feel free to ask these same questions of anyone who is entering your home. This is true whether it is a friend, a family member, or a repair technician. These people have been leading daily lives that include coming in contact with lots of strangers. It is better to be safe than sorry while we are all dealing with the increase in COVID-19 variants.
The best protection for yourself and your family members from getting the COVID-19 or its variants is to remain vigilant about enforcing precautionary actions. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine and the booster shot when it is available are big protective steps. Maintain social distance from strangers, wear your mask when away from home, and keep frequently used surfaces clean. Always consult with your health care provider if you have any questions or concerns.