March 2021 marks one year since California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a statewide “stay at home” order to help slow the spread of the novel COVID-19 virus. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed almost every aspect of our lives. Along the way, we have learned a lot about the virus, how to prevent the spread, the importance of connecting with loved ones, and even how to sew our own face masks.
After nearly a year of staying home, perfecting hand hygiene, and pushing through quarantine fatigue, here are five things we have learned so far from the COVID-19 pandemic.
We can all stop the spread. Preventing the spread of COVID-19 begins with wearing your mask. Nearly half of COVID-19 transmissions are traced to people unaware they are infected. If you are infected but have no symptoms, a cloth mask will significantly reduce the risk that you will transmit the disease to others. Washing your hands with soap and water is also effective. When soap and water aren’t available, using an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can help you stop the spread. Finally, the surest way to protect yourself and your loved ones is to maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance between yourself and those outside your home.
Maintaining social connections is key. Stress levels were high before the pandemic, but over the year, they have skyrocketed. We all need support. So, while we physically distance ourselves to help stop the spread of COVID-19, finding new ways to stay socially connected is more important than ever. Pick a family member, friend, co-worker, or neighbor, and reach out. You can ask how they are or simply say, “I’m here for you.” We’re all going through this together, and your words could make all the difference.
COVID-19 vaccines are safe. Get it when you’re eligible. The authorized vaccines underwent rigorous review by scientists, clinicians, and federal agencies before being distributed to the public. While the vaccines themselves are new, the process used to make them is not. mRNA vaccines, like those used for COVID-19, were discovered in the 1990s, so we have many years of research demonstrating that this type of vaccine is safe. Side effects are typically mild and are similar to other vaccines. They indicate that your body is responding and building immunity to the virus. Learn more about what can be gained from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine by viewing a video replay of a Facebook live event featuring two Kaiser Permanente physicians. Click on the following links: https://bit.ly/3r2IADZ (English); https://bit.ly/3ceySdy (Spanish).
We must continue healthy behaviors after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine has provided much needed hope for an end to the pandemic that has impacted all of us. But it will take some time for a large percentage of people to get vaccinated. Until then, continue doing the things that work and saves lives — even after being vaccinated. Here’s why: The vaccine will likely prevent you from getting sick, but it may not prevent you from getting and spreading the virus. For the latest vaccine eligibility information and guidance on how to get a vaccine when you’re eligible, visit kp.org/covidvaccine.
Don’t delay care. Staying healthy during the pandemic also means staying on top of your regular health needs. If you’ve put off appointments for chronic health conditions, preventive care screenings, or immunizations, don’t wait. Delaying or skipping your care can increase your risk of serious illness. Kaiser Permanente has implemented rigorous safety procedures to ensure members can safely visit our medical offices and hospitals. We also offer telehealth options for many primary and specialty care needs. Click here to learn more about how you can connect to care your way.