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Make it a Happy and HEALTHY Holiday

Make it a Happy and HEALTHY Holiday

The holiday season is upon us and what’s better than a happy holiday season for you, your family, and friends?  One of the biggest ways to make it a happy holiday season is to make it a healthy season. Dr. Daniel Livorsi is an infectious disease specialist at the University of Iowa. He says rural counties are still getting hit hard by COVID-19…tape

“We’ve seen that rural counties have been hit harder with COVID. There was a study in September that showed that COVID is killing rural Americans twice as frequently as it is in urban areas, and I think a major reason for this is that there has been less uptake of the COVID vaccine in rural areas. So, about a third of rural Americans are unvaccinated, which is 10 percent more than we’ve seen in other parts of the country. The most effective thing people can do to protect themselves is to get vaccinated. We have a safe and effective vaccine that’s available to everybody free of charge, so I would strongly encourage people to talk to their providers about getting vaccinated.”

Getting vaccinated is the way to ensure that both you and your loved ones stay healthy during holiday get-togethers.

“The COVID vaccine provides protection not just to the person who’s getting vaccinated but also provides protection to others because when you’re vaccinated, you’re less likely to get sick from COVID, and you’re less likely to spread the virus to other people, so the vaccines a big part of it. Of course, wearing masks is also one strategy that’s helpful as well because it prevents people from spreading the virus to others, so if you’re in large gatherings of people, especially people who are not vaccinated, I’d also encourage you to wear a mask. So, when we get vaccinated, the vaccine trains our body to fight COVID. If we’re ever exposed to the virus at some point, the person who’s vaccinated is less likely to get sick from COVID and they’re less likely to spread the virus to other people, whether that be family members, friends, or other loved ones in the communities. Many communities have people who have several medical conditions that make them more prone to getting very sick from COVID. If these people are around other people who are vaccinated, they’re less likely to get infected and less likely to get sick.”

Despite breakthrough cases, he says the vaccine is still very safe and effective.

“The data is clear on this point; the vaccines are very effective. Vaccinated people are five times less likely to get COVID and 10 times less likely to be hospitalized with COVID. There is a small chance that after you get vaccinated that you will get a breakthrough infection but, even so, is likely it will just be a very mild infection because, again, the vaccines are very effective at preventing severe COVID disease. In terms of safety, these vaccines have undergone the most rigorous safety monitoring in history, so we know that they’re very safe. Nearly 200 million people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated, and billions more around the world. And all the vaccines have gone through the standard phases of safety testing than any other vaccine would go through. So, we can be very assured of their safety.”

The vaccine can add an extra layer of protection for people who’ve already had COVID.

“The science shows that getting sick with COVID does give you some protection from future illness with COVID, but the amount of protection you get after having COVID can really depend upon how mild or severe the infection was and how long it’s been since you’ve had that infection. There’s really not a test that’s available that can tell you for sure that you’re protected from future infection after actually having COVID. And this is in contrast to the vaccine, if you get vaccinated you know you have a very high level of protection against COVID. So, in short, vaccine immunity is much more predictable, much more reliable in the natural immunity, and we know from studies that people who’ve had COVID and then get vaccinated have even enhanced protection against COVID. So, it’s recommended that even if you’ve had the disease, that you should also get vaccinated as well.

Livorsi says it’s important to talk to your health care provider for accurate information on the vaccine.

“It’s very understandable that people may feel hesitant about vaccines. There’s a lot of information out there, some information is incorrect, so I think the key is finding information that’s accurate and to find the most accurate information, I would encourage people to talk to a trained healthcare provider and to really work with that person to sort through the misinformation and to get the accurate information.”

People can also go to www.vaccines.gov.