From DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: COVID-19 and flu could make for a rough winter

October 28, 2022
DHW Director Dave Jeppesen

The weather in Idaho has officially tipped toward fall and winter, with cooler (even freezing!) temperatures, and more rain and snow. That means we’ll all be spending more time inside, and viruses like those that cause COVID-19 and the flu will become more widespread.

By all accounts, public health officials are expecting this season to be especially difficult because of respiratory illnesses. COVID-19 continues to spread and is very likely to increase. Flu is expected to be worse than previous seasons, based on what happened in the Southern Hemisphere, where they reported their worst flu season in five years.

I’m as tired of the ominous predictions as the next person, but I also want to be realistic. I don’t want to get sick or spread illness. These viruses are not to be dismissed. And we have some excellent tools to protect ourselves and our loved ones from serious illness and death that both viruses can cause.

For COVID-19, we should stay home if we feel sick, wear masks in crowded places, and get vaccinated and boosted. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people ages 5 years and older get one updated bivalent booster if it has been at least two months since their last COVID-19 dose. Staying up to date on COVID-19 vaccines is the best way to prevent serious illness and death. Getting vaccinated after you recover from a COVID-19 infection provides added protection against COVID-19.

The actions we recommend to prevent COVID-19 also prevent flu – stay home if you’re sick, wear a mask in crowded public places, and get vaccinated every year. The flu vaccine lowers your risk for serious illness and death due to influenza. It is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older.

It also helps to wash your hands often throughout each day.

As the holidays approach, I am looking forward to spending time with my children and grandchildren, and I don’t want COVID-19 or flu to wreck my plans. If you get boosted or vaccinated very soon, your immune system will be good and primed for Thanksgiving dinner. I encourage everyone to take the precautions we know work to keep ourselves and our loved ones as healthy as possible.

I hope you have a safe and healthy weekend! 

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is dedicated to strengthening the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans. Learn more at healthandwelfare.idaho.gov.