To call the last 16 months a nightmare would be an understatement. The emergence of the novel coronavirus facilitated a pandemic the likes of which comes around once in a century. In fact, no one under the age of 100 has lived through a public health emergency of this magnitude. Fortunately, thanks to the ready availability of vaccines, life in the United States has resumed some degree of normalcy in recent months. While this is certainly good news, it must also be noted that the pandemic is not yet over. Given how much of the country has yet to get vaccinated, COVID-19 continues to present an imminent threat to millions of Americans. In the interest of protecting yourself and others throughout the latest phase of the pandemic, put the following pointers to good use.
In the quest to protect yourself from COVID-19, no step you take will be more effective than getting vaccinated. Considering how easily accessible vaccines currently are in the U.S., there should be nothing holding you back from taking this simple – and crucial – measure. Countless pharmacies, pop-up clinics and medical facilities are offering vaccinations free of charge, so if a perceived lack of availability has been holding you back, you needn’t be concerned any longer. In addition to getting vaccinated at your earliest possible convenience, you should encourage any unvaccinated friends or family members to do the same.
Continue Taking Precautions
While getting vaccinated is an essential part of protecting yourself from the novel coronavirus, continuing to take common sense precautionary measures certainly can’t hurt. As is the case with any vaccine, breakthrough cases of COVID-19 have been known to occur. Furthermore, with COVID-19 variants popping up left and right, there’s nothing wrong with keeping your guard up.
As such, you should continue to mask up in public, regardless of the growing number of people now refusing to do so. Mask-wearing can be particularly beneficial to individuals with compromised immunity. You should also continue to keep your hands clean and avoid touching your face.
Additionally, avoid interacting with unvaccinated individuals, particularly those who refuse to mask up. Take care to not allow yourself to be pressured into interactions with unvaccinated individuals. Unless these individuals suffer from medical conditions that prohibit them from receiving vaccines, they have no excuse for not doing the right thing. Regardless of how unconcerned they personally are about the threat posed by COVID-19, getting vaccinated contributes to public health, and by refusing a free, readily-available vaccine, these people are effectively saying that they don’t care about public health. So, if a work colleague, repairman or anyone else in your orbit is unvaccinated and/or unmasked, you are well within your rights to limit interactions with them or refuse to interact with them entirely.
Work from Home
Formal office environments can be hotbeds for COVID-19 infections. Given the virus’s highly infectious nature and the ridiculous number of unvaccinated Americans, it stands to reason that many of the people you work with are walking around unvaccinated – and probably unmasked, to boot. While employers in the U.S. are within their legal rights to require workers to get vaccinated, a large number of them have yet to do so. As such, there’s nothing keeping unvaccinated individuals from spreading the virus throughout countless workplaces.
If you have compromised immunity or simply don’t wish to risk potential COVID-19 exposure, talk to your bosses about working remotely. As many companies have discovered over the last year, most desk jobs don’t actually require people to be physically present in an office to be done effectively and efficiently. So, if your employer has recently started calling workers back to the office or has yet to embrace remote work, clearly state your concerns and ask that you be allowed to carry out your job duties from the safety of home.
Be Mindful of Misinformation
Misinformation has been a tremendous impediment to public health throughout every phase of this pandemic. From certain public figures and news outlets dramatically underplaying the threat presented by COVID-19 to people falsely claiming that vaccines present a greater risk than the virus itself, there’s no shortage of harmful disinformation making its way into people’s brains. While some people are able to instantly identify disinformation, others are extremely susceptible to it. In some cases, this stems from misplaced trust in certain figures. In others, people simply seek out “facts” that coincide with their preexisting beliefs.
At the end of the day, the vaccines available in the U.S. have proven highly effective at providing protection from COVID-19 – and while some people experience temporary side-effects from them, these side-effects are far less dangerous than the novel coronavirus. Furthermore, it is not all unusual for any vaccine to cause temporary side-effects. If you have specific concerns about any of the currently available vaccines or vaccination in general, consult a medical professional or visit the websites of the CDC and World Health Organization.
Unsurprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic has all done quite a number on the world’s collective mental health. If you’re currently suffering from any mental health issues that were created or exacerbated by the pandemic, a good therapist can play an integral role in making you feel whole again. Golden State residents on the hunt for alternatives to in-person therapy should fire up their favorite search engines and enter “online therapy California.”
For over a year, the novel coronavirus has altered life around the globe, unfortunately. Additionally, despite only having 4.25% of the world’s population, the U.S. has the highest COVID-19 death rate of any country. While the wide availability of vaccines is definitely cause for hope, the pandemic is still very, very much in effect. The world may be healing, but the threat of the novel coronavirus and its variants remains. As such, anyone looking for effective ways to stay safe throughout the next phase of the pandemic would do well to take the measures discussed above.