Watch a short video with a message from our Medical Director Steven Merahn, MD, about COVID 19 and Flu season!
Hi, I'm Dr. Steven Merahn, Medical Director at Care Design New York and Partners Health Plan.
It's Fall, also known as flu season. Unfortunately, at the same time, we're seeing an increase in the number of cases of COVID infection in New York State.
And while the number of COVID cases remains low, there are some significant increases in the number of hospitalizations and deaths from COVID in individuals who are most vulnerable to severe infection.
These risk factors for severe infection include advanced age, multiple medical conditions, including heart and lung disease or cancer, history of smoking, and of particular importance here, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Vaccines are the single most powerful tool we have to prevent severe disease for both flu and COVID. And while the vaccines may not always prevent infection, they are well proven to reduce the risk of severe infection and hospitalization, as well as making your symptoms milder and shorten the course of any infection.
So, please get your flu vaccine and COVID vaccine as soon as possible. You can safely get them both together. And keep in mind that the new COVID vaccine is not a booster. It's a new formulation designed to protect you against new variations of the virus.
Other ways to prevent infection include frequent hand washing, use of hand sanitizer, practicing cough etiquette, covering your mouth with a tissue you dispose or coughing into your elbow, and many people are choosing to wear a mask when in public or crowded places. Many health systems are having their professional staff wear masks to protect patients and visitors.
Flu and COVID share many signs and symptoms in common. This includes cough, runny, stuffy nose, tiredness, fever, muscle aches and pains.
First, if you start to feel sick, stay out of public places, work, or group programs.
Second, if you start to feel sick, test for COVID as soon as you can. Early detection of COVID is important and there are medications, one is called Paxlovid, you can take early in the course of an infection that can induce your risk of serious infection. To be most effective, they need to be taken in the first five days of your illness, and that's why early testing is so important. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about medication once you get a positive test.
Finally, whether flu or COVID infection, you should always seek medical care if you have trouble drinking fluids, have trouble breathing, or don't have enough breath to finish a sentence, your lips or nails are discolored or blue, your fever doesn't respond to medications, or you're just too sleepy to stay awake during the day.
I know this was a lot of information, but I hope it helps you have a healthy fall and winter season.
And thanks for listening.
For more information, reach out to your Care Manager.