Contrary to health officials’ best hopes, the COVID-19 pandemic is still far from over. The highly contagious Delta variant and low vaccination rate means that daily cases have surged to highs not seen since last fall. That means COVID is a clear and present danger to your health—and in some cases, your life. Read on to find out about six COVID mistakes that can be fatal. And to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You Have “Long” COVID and May Not Even Know It.
It bears repeating: Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself from dying of COVID-19. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, recently reported that 99.5% of people who have died of COVID since January were unvaccinated.
The COVID vaccines have proven very effective against preventing serious illness and death, but there is some concern that their effectiveness may decline over time, particularly in older people. One study in Israel found that among people over 65 vaccinated last December, the vaccine’s ability to prevent severe illness had declined to 55% this summer. Although that study isn’t conclusive, it seems to have influenced the CDC’s better-safe-than-sorry approach: They will reportedly recommend today that all Americans get a COVID booster shot eight months after their last injection.
Experts recommend getting the flu vaccine as soon as it’s available this fall. Avoiding the flu will prevent you from a COVID-flu double infection. A study published in BMJ found that people infected with both the flu and the coronavirus were twice as likely to die than people who had COVID-19 alone. Getting the flu jab will also strengthen your immune system, which the flu weakens while you’re fighting it off, increasing your chances of contracting COVID.
It’s still a good idea to mask up, even if you’re fully vaccinated, and especially if you have a compromised immune system. “If you are in an area with a high number of new COVID-19 cases in the last week, the CDC recommends wearing a mask indoors in public,” says the Mayo Clinic. “If you are fully vaccinated and have a condition or are taking medications that weaken your immune system, you may need to keep wearing a mask.”
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As experts have said from the beginning of the pandemic, keeping your distance from people who don’t live in your household is important to avoid contracting COVID, and gathering outdoors is safer than indoors. If you find yourself at a crowded indoor event with many people who are maskless and whose vaccination status is uncertain, it’s OK to leave.
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To keep from contracting COVID, the last thing you want to do is compromise the body system responsible for protecting you from disease. But many of us lower our immunity with unhealthy everyday habits. To keep your immune system strong, experts recommend eating a healthy diet, getting enough quality sleep, exercising regularly and limiting or avoiding alcohol. It’s old news, but it still works today.
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Follow the fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don’t travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don’t go indoors with people you’re not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.