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Doctors share tips to prevent sickness before the holidays

(NewsNation) — A tripledemic of COVID-19, the flu, and RSV is pummeling the U.S. health system after years of pandemic burnout, and hospital beds are running out nationwide.  

Dr. Saju Matthew, a primary care physician and public health specialist in Atlanta, joined “NewsNation Live” to discuss ways to prevent sickness before the holidays.

He said as people prepare to travel, especially in confined spaces such as an airplane, they need to wear masks.

“Not only can we decrease getting COVID-19, but also the other respiratory illnesses like RSV and influenza,” Matthew said.

Matthew also urged people to wash their hands and get vaccinated, especially because it can decrease the severity of the disease if they contract it.

“So despite the flu vaccine, even if you get the flu, you will have a much milder illness,” he said. “It’s not too late to get vaccinated — the flu season can go all the way through May.”

In regard to getting a COVID-19 booster shot, Matthew said it’s like “getting an upgraded iPhone.”

“You want to get an upgraded vaccine that not only protects against the old variants but certainly against the newer variants,” Matthew said. “It also decreases the number of infections. And if you can decrease the infection, you can decrease people going into hospitals, (and that) is also one reason why you want to get this updated booster shot.”

Dr. Jayne Morgan, executive director of health and community education at Piedmont Healthcare, later joined NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” with more tips on holiday travel.

Morgan said it’s “absolutely” okay to travel this season, but it’s important to utilize certain tools, from at-home testing to vaccinations, to stay safe.

Additional tips from the CDC to prevent you or family from getting sick:

  • Wash hands for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Cover your cough and sneezes
  • Clean and disinfect commonly used spaces

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