‘I would wear a mask again’ | Austin doctor talks best COVID-19 safety practices for vacations – Community News

‘I would wear a mask again’ | Austin doctor talks best COVID-19 safety practices for vacations

dr. Katie Theoktisto, an infectious disease physician at Baylor Scott & White, said masking and getting a booster shot are two important ways to stay safe.

AUSTIN, Texas — With the omicron variant now in Texas, the delta variant accounting for more than 99% of COVID-19 cases in southern states, and an increase in other respiratory viruses, local doctors are asking you to take more precautions to yourself and your family from COVID-19 this holiday season.

The best practices remain the same. Social distancing and masking are the best ways to avoid getting vaccinated for COVID-19.

dr. Katie Theoktisto is an infectious disease physician at Baylor Scott & White. She said that once you’ve become more relaxed when it comes to masks and hand washing, you should take those precautions again.

“If you haven’t worn a mask in supermarkets and other busy environments, I would start wearing a mask again, especially during the holidays. And that’s not only to prevent you from getting sick, but also to protect the loved ones and people around you. to avoid,” said Theoktisto.

Getting a booster shot has also been shown to be an effective way to fight COVID-19. Antibodies from COVID-19 infection and COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to decline over time, which is why booster shots were rolled out.

Theoktisto also said current vaccines should still be useful against the omicron variant.

“AN booster shot can definitely give you some cross-reactivity, so some immunity to that variant, even if the vaccines we have are not 100% effective or 90% effective,” Theoktisto said.

She said you can feel more confident during the holidays if you and the rest of your family are vaccinated.

“I think you can, especially if the booster shot or the first vaccination has been in the last six months,” Theoktisto said. “Some things you know you can discuss with your family members are, ‘Is anyone symptomatic?’ And if so, they may need to stay home and away from the family gathering or get tested.

She recommends getting tested for COVID-19 before traveling, especially if you have symptoms. You can also get tested for the flu, as flu rates are rising. Theoktisto said Baylor, Scott & White have seen an increase in hospitalizations for the flu and other respiratory illnesses.

She said what are normally less severe cases of these other respiratory illnesses are more serious, especially in people with weakened immune systems. She said this is because people are losing their immunity to these viruses because we’ve all been wearing masks for the past two years.

She also said it’s not too late to get your flu shot.

“I’ve seen admissions for, you know, things that were normally common colds for us in the past,” Theoktisto said. “But now, because we haven’t been exposed to a lot of these in a few years, we’re reacting more harshly to them.”

General. she said it’s up to you to evaluate your risk factors this holiday season and decide what precautions you and your family will take.

“People should probably watch where they travel to,” Theoktisto said. “What are the rates of COVID there? Who are they going to expose themselves to? Are their family members vaccinated or have they been vaccinated? And so, just sort of balancing those risks.”

The CDC says the main way people become infected with COVID-19 is through exposure to respiratory droplets that carry the contagious virus. It is possible for people to become infected through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects, but the risk is generally considered to be low. Theoktisto said it’s up to you how much you want to disinfect surfaces, but the most important thing is to wash your hands and use hand sanitizer.

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