Ranges of respiratory sickness are rising within the Boston space and elsewhere. Right here, MIT Medical Director Cecilia Stuopis supplies suggestions for conserving your self and others wholesome through the winter months.
Q: Charges of Covid-19 and different respiratory sicknesses are again on the rise. Ought to I be involved?
A: Whereas everybody ought to take further precautions, folks mustn’t panic. In early November, together with different specialists, we predicted that the mixture of an early begin to the flu season, decreased Covid-19 restrictions, immune-dodging Omicron variants, and the nationwide surge in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) might very nicely mix forces to make lots of people sick.
In some ways, that prediction has turn into a actuality. In accordance with the CDC, Middlesex County is now experiencing a excessive degree of group transmission for Covid-19, probably pushed by the extremely contagious Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 and a rise in gatherings related to the vacation season. On the identical time, Covid-19 viral ranges have increased in the previous couple of weeks in Boston-area wastewater; flu stays prevalent; and RSV-prompted hospitalizations are persevering with.
Granted, this may be worrisome, however we’re in a really totally different place than we had been final yr, and definitely than just a few years in the past. We now know that Covid-19 vaccinations don’t totally stop transmission — notably on the subject of many of those new variants — however we additionally know that the vaccines do a superb job at stopping extreme Covid-19 sickness.
As for the flu, in keeping with the CDC, this year’s vaccine is a very good match to the circulating strains. So, for those who haven’t obtained your flu vaccine but, or for those who aren’t updated together with your Covid-19 boosters (together with your bivalent booster), we strongly advocate that you just get your immunizations as quickly as you possibly can.
Along with vaccinations, masking stays a strong technique for stopping the unfold of sickness. You’ll want to have a provide of well-fitting, high-quality masks available, and put on them when acceptable.
Q: What’s MIT doing, or planning on doing, in response to the elevated prevalence of those viruses in our group?
A: MIT is continuous to observe the state of affairs carefully, and we stay in shut communication with each native and state well being officers. Our recommendation stays what it has been for the reason that fall, with the caveat of elevated vigilance for the approaching weeks as we face this uptick: We proceed to encourage members of the MIT group to put on high-quality, well-fitting masks if they need to take action, and we remind everybody that free KF-94 masks are readily available in vending machines across campus, and hand sanitizers are nonetheless positioned all through the MIT campus.
Should you really feel sick — even for those who take a look at adverse for Covid — it is very important masks up, keep dwelling, and take a look at. The new CVS in Kendall Square is among the many many native pharmacies that inventory speedy Covid-19 assessments, and free tests are again available by mail from the U.S. authorities and thru your medical insurance plan. You may as well attest to your signs on the MIT Atlas (Covid Pass) app, and decide up and drop off a PCR take a look at on the primary ground of the atrium between Buildings E23 and E25. Covid-19 PCR assessments are free for MIT Atlas (Covid Move) members who’ve signs.
It’s also vital to do not forget that MIT stays dedicated to offering college students with a totally in-person academic expertise for 2023. To that finish, school, instructors, and college students ought to take time to brush up on these policies and resources.
Q: What ought to I do to maintain myself and others protected?
A: Our advisable precautions for avoiding respiratory sicknesses are the identical as all the time: Wash or sanitize your palms typically, notably earlier than consuming and after utilizing the restroom. Put on a high-quality, well-fitting masks in crowded areas akin to airports and airplanes, massive indoor occasions, and when using the MBTA. And for those who really feel sick, masks up and go dwelling, or keep dwelling in case you are there already.
The measures you are taking to stop the unfold of Covid-19 may even assist stop transmission of flu, RSV, and different sicknesses. And acceptable, significant precautions don’t solely defend you; in addition they defend these members of our group who’re notably vulnerable to sickness.
Lastly, for those who do take a look at optimistic for Covid-19, communicate to a well being care supplier to see in the event that they advocate you are taking Paxlovid. Free telehealth appointments are available for Massachusetts residents.