COVID-19 has caused lifestyles to be altered as society is functioning differently as a whole. It is evident that the resilience of community members has been tested in one way or another as we continue to lose loved ones and friends due to COVID-19 and the flu. “Long COVID” has also been prevalent, and many continue to suffer because of that. Our health should be considered a priority. Therefore, with the winter months and post-holiday surge coming ahead, it is incredibly important to stay up to date on your vaccinations.
Currently, in Philadelphia, COVID-19 cases are on the rise and a new subvariant has been recognized as being possibly one of the most transmissible ones to date. There is a post-holiday surge of COVID-19, and this is primarily fueled by the new variant named XBB.1.5. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending people wear masks indoors in areas where the level of transmission is high. Additionally, physicians recommend getting the new bivalent COVID-19 booster as this is considered the best protection. The bivalent booster helps to provide protection against infection and helps protect against serious illness.
In addition to COVID-19, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and the flu are also spreading. To help stop the spread of COVID, RSV, and the flu it’s important to maintain healthy habits such as covering coughs and sneezes and washing your hands often. Additionally, staying up to date on vaccinations and staying at home when sick can help protect friends, family, and community members from the flu, RSV, and COVID-19. In December, Esperanza hosted a Latino-focused press conference due to the high transmission rates of RSV, flu, and COVID-19 in Philadelphia. The Latino-focused press conference was held for the community’s health and well-being. Esperanza Executive Vice President Rev. Danny Cortes and Senior Vice President of Community Engagement, Research & Health Equity Dr. Jamile Tellez Lieberman, joined together with other leaders as part of the first Spanish-language press conference by the City of Philadelphia Department of Public Health. Together, they are encouraging the community to take precautions and get vaccinated against the flu and COVID-19.
The CDC states that vaccines are a safe way to build immune protection. For example, the COVID-19 vaccine provides a more reliable immune response than getting sick with COVID-19. Therefore, the community should not wait to get vaccinated and boosted as this can be very dangerous because it needlessly puts people and their loved ones at risk of severe illness and disease. Lastly, several factors impact vaccine and booster hesitancy, and it is important that we all learn how to leverage science to inform, support, and advocate for change, that can make a positive difference.
In conclusion, communities can stay healthy from COVID-19, the flu, and RSV by a variety of different ways. The best way is to encourage vaccination for COVID and flu and masking when in indoor spaces. It’s important to understand that there may be several disparities in place that prevent people from getting vaccinated such as lack of transportation to and from the vaccination site or language barriers between patients and healthcare providers. Therefore, to maintain and promote a healthy community we have to support each other by recognizing these disparities and working towards addressing them.