Staying Healthy during Cold and Flu Season

An infectious disease specialist has tips for warding off respiratory illnesses.

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CLEVELAND – Respiratory viruses can really knock you down. That’s why it’s always better to prevent them, rather than treat them. That goes for a cold, the flu and certainly COVID-19.

Susan Rehm, MD, infectious disease specialist for Cleveland Clinic said vaccines are your best defense against viral illness this time of year.

“We have wonderful vaccines available for influenza and for COVID. We can reduce the chance that people are going to get really ill and maybe, in some cases, eliminate the possibility,” said Dr. Rehm. “The vaccines aren’t perfect, but they’re much better than not getting vaccinated.” 

Dr. Rehm said vaccines are the best way to stay healthy but adds that not all illnesses are preventable with vaccination.

She said we’ll likely see more cold and flu this year, in addition to COVID. That’s because people aren’t masking as much and we’ve had less exposure to respiratory illnesses throughout the pandemic.

So, it’s important to add extra layers of protection.

“Some of the things that we can do to reduce the exposure to any respiratory virus this year are things that have become very familiar to us; distancing, staying out of crowds, wearing a mask, hand washing are all things that will reduce exposure,” she said.

Vaccines for flu and COVID are recommended for everyone age six months and older, and it’s safe to get them both at the same time.

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