BATON ROUGE, La. – For many Louisianians, the best part of the holiday season includes gathering with family and friends. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is sharing tips to help everyone celebrate the healthy way.
“I know we are all looking forward to getting together after two years now of dealing with the pandemic,” said Dr. Larry Simon, Blue Cross medical director. “But with COVID-19 cases on the rise, it's still important to take precautions.”
“First, we need to remember that not only is COVID-19 on the rise, but so is the flu, other respiratory diseases, and standard colds and viruses,” Dr. Simon said. “Everyone need to take steps to stop the spread of germs because while it may not be hard for you to recover from these illnesses, it could be life- threatening to your family and friends, especially if they are older, immunocompromised or unvaccinated.”
Blue Cross encourages everyone follow these tips to protect themselves and their family:
Get a COVID-19 vaccine or booster. Health officials recommend everyone age 5 and older gets the COVID-19 vaccine and that anyone age 16 or older gets a COVID-19 vaccine booster. The vaccines are safe and effective at preventing death, hospitalization or severe illness from COVID-19. The booster enhances the protection you get from the original COVID-19 vaccine so your immune system stays ready to recognize and fight off the virus.
Call the State of Louisiana’s Vaccine Hotline at 1-855-453-0774 or visit the Louisiana Department of Health’s website for help scheduling a COVID-19 vaccine or booster appointment. Blue Cross covers the COVID-19 vaccine or booster at $0 for eligible members of individual or employer health plans.
Don’t skip your flu shot. The winter months are the peak time for the flu. If you have not gotten a flu shot this year, there is still time. Flu shots are widely available at pharmacies, clinics and doctors’ offices statewide. Anyone six months or older can get a flu shot. Most health plans, Medicare and Medicaid plans cover flu shots at very low or no cost.
Take steps to stop the spread of germs. If you plan gather with others over the holidays, stick with small groups of people, preferably those who are part of your household. Stay six feet apart from others when in larger groups that include people who don’t live with you. Also, practice common germ control techniques:
• Generally, outdoor events are less risky than indoor ones. Take advantage of Louisiana’s mild climate to dine outdoors, take walks to look at holiday decorations or gather on porches and patios.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer if washing is not an option.
• Make sure to cover your mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.
• Do not eat or drink after others. Frequently clean and disinfect commonly used areas, such as desks, bathrooms and counters.
Wear your mask in crowded, indoor places. Even if you are vaccinated, wearing a mask helps stop the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases. This is especially important if you will be around children younger than five or other people who cannot get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Stay home if you are sick. One of the most common ways patients end up in the hospital during winter months is by being around someone else who is sick. While it's not fun, if you're sick, stay at home. And, if you or other members of your family are sick, don’t invite other people to come to your home.
“We all want to get together and be with friends and family, but to help make sure we are able to do that for years to come, we need to be mindful,” Dr. Simon said. “If you can do these things, you can increase your chances of having a very healthy, happy and safe holiday season.”
Dr. Simon shares these tips and more in Blue Cross’ Happy, Healthy Holiday Season video (2:23).
Throughout the holiday season, Blue Cross will share #CheersToYourHealth tips on social media. Follow Blue Cross @BCBSLA on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok.
Visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube channel to see the Holiday Health playlist, featuring 10 short videos with members of the insurer’s in-house clinical team, including dietitians, social workers and physicians. Learn how to eat mindfully during the holidays, manage stress and stay focused on health and wellness. Subscribe to know when new videos are added.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. Founded in New Orleans in 1934, we are a tax-paying nonprofit health insurer with offices in every major region to serve our customers. We have been recognized for the past three years as an honoree of The Civic 50, named by Points of Light as one of the 50 most community-minded companies in the United States.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. We are a private mutual company, owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. We invite all Louisianians to visit our website at www.bcbsla.com or talk to us on social media.