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Take 5 for a Healthier Winter

Kelsey-Seybold providers have five reasons why vaccines, boosters, and masks are still important to help lower the risk of COVID-19 foiling your fun plans for the winter holidays. Our doctors have answers to important questions and expert tips to help you protect yourself and those you care about.

Take 5 for a Healthier Winter

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1. Infection-induced immunity versus vaccine-induced immunity

Takeaway: Vaccines reduce your risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19.

Here's why: Although some people believe natural infection and natural immunity are preferable to the COVID-19 vaccine, the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 far outweighs any benefits of natural immunity. Also, although illness as a result of the virus that causes COVID-19 is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection, experts don’t know for sure how long this protection lasts. Immunity from a vaccine provides better protection from severe illness, hospitalization, or death.

2. Are vaccines keeping people safe?

Takeaway: Vaccines are safe and effective—reducing the risk of COVID-19, including severe illness, by 90% or more among people who are fully vaccinated.

Here's why: Vaccine breakthrough infections are expected because many factors affect the efficacy of the vaccine in each person. No vaccine is 100% effective, but the COVID-19 vaccine is very effective at preventing most infections.

More importantly, fully vaccinated people diagnosed with a breakthrough infection are less likely to develop serious illness than those who are unvaccinated and get COVID-19. Vaccinated individuals are also less likely to have severe symptoms, be hospitalized, and die.

3. Will the virus keep evolving into new variants?

Takeaway: FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines help protect against Delta and other known variants.

Here's why: New variants of the virus are expected. Viruses constantly change through mutation and sometimes these mutations result in a new variant. Some variants emerge and disappear while others persist. New variants will most likely continue to emerge.

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine and booster is the best preventive measure, but because we don’t yet know how effective they will be against new variants that may arise, including Omicron, it’s important to continue using other safety measures, such as masking and handwashing.

4. Who needs a booster?

Takeaway: COVID-19 booster doses are recommended for individuals 16 years and older.

Here's why: COVID-19 vaccination remains effective in preventing severe disease. However, studies indicate that the ability to prevent infection with variants may decrease over time. Data from clinical trials showed that a booster shot increased the immune response, providing improved protection against COVID-19, including variants.

If you got Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, you should get the booster 6 months after completing your primary COVID-19 vaccination series, and if you received the J&J's Janssen COVID-19 vaccine, get your booster at least 2 months after completing your primary COVID-19 vaccination.

5. How do I know what I need to do to be safe?

Takeaway: Everyone 5 and older should get the COVID-19 vaccine, and everyone 16 and older should get the booster shot. All ages should continue precautions, especially as new variants emerge.

Here's why: The best preventive measure is to get a COVID-19 vaccine and a booster. Other helpful measures include:

  • Wear a mask in indoors public places if you are vaccinated and in an area of substantial or high transmission.
  • Wear a mask in indoor public places if you are unvaccinated.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick.
  • Keep two arm lengths away from people who don’t live with you.
  • Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.
  • Test for COVID-19 if you have symptoms or will be joining indoor gatherings with others who are not in your household.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Cough and sneeze into your mask or elbow.
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces regularly.

Take 5 to stay healthy this winter. Protect yourself from COVID-19 with a vaccine and booster, wear a mask when needed, and follow other common-sense prevention measures, such as washing your hands and disinfecting high-touch surfaces.

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You can schedule appointments through our secure patient portal, MyKelseyOnline, or call our 24/7 Contact Center at 713-442-0427. Virtual Visit options are also available to all new and current patients.

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