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How to protect yourself and your family against flu, COVID-19, RSV and more

| Healthy You | Safety | Wellness

Woman healthcare provider gives immunization in arm of grey-haired man

Don't skip the shot. See why vaccines are so important this fall.

When seasons change and people start spending more time together indoors, it’s easy to catch a bug that makes you feel lousy.

That’s why healthcare providers encourage people to get their annual flu shot and other recommended vaccines. 

While the pandemic has eased, it’s still possible to get COVID-19. And last year’s alarming spike in RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) made everyone aware of the need to guard against similar harmful viruses.

“We want to help people avoid all the nasty bugs that can spread in families and communities,” says Kristen Tremaine-McCarthy, MD, a family medicine doctor at PeaceHealth in Vancouver, Washington.

Review with your provider

So what can you do to stay healthy this fall? Talk with your provider about the vaccines you and your family shouldn’t skip. 

The Centers for Disease Control recommends getting the flu shot by the end of October. An updated COVID-19 vaccine and a new RSV vaccine are also expected to be available.

Besides seasonal shots, check to see if you or a loved one are due for a vaccine dose for other preventable illnesses such as:

“You don’t want to take these illnesses lightly. Being immunized is far preferable to trying to recover from any one of them,” says Dr. Tremaine-McCarthy.

Besides potentially saving you from getting sick, immunizations:

  • Cost less than being treated for the illness it protects against.
  • Prevent lost work or school days due to illness.
  • Reduce the spread of sickness in communities.

Vaccines play a big role in keeping groups healthy. Because of that, you or your family might need certain ones to travel or enter a school or day care. To learn more, read the frequently asked questions about immunizations for parents.

Protect yourself and others

Being vaccinated can keep you from getting sick. What’s more, it may protect someone else who can’t have one, including babies and older adults.

“Not everyone can take vaccines. It can be risky for people with fragile health,” Dr. Tremaine-McCarthy says. 

Do you have concerns about possible side effects? Or do you have questions about different types of vaccinations available? Your provider can help you weigh the risks and understand which one might work best for you.

Other ways to stay healthy

Getting vaccinated is just one line of defense against viruses. You can also remind your family about these ways to protect yourselves from getting sick:

It’s rare to get through the fall or winter without some illness in your home. By taking good care of yourself and getting the recommended vaccinations, you have a better chance of fewer sick days and more quality time with your family.

portrait of Kristen A Tremaine-McCarthy MD

Kristen A Tremaine-McCarthy MD

Family Medicine
Kristen Tremaine, MD, is a family medicine physician who earned her undergraduate degrees in public health and radiation health physics from Oregon State University, followed by her medical degree from Oregon Health & Science University. She completed her residency training with Family Medicine of Southwest Washington in Vancouver, Washington. “I believe in treating patients with the care I would want my family to receive,” shares Dr. Tremaine. “My goal is to build a trusting relationship over time with each of my patients, understand their health goals, and improve their quality of life through preventive, curative and maintenance care.” Away from work Dr. Tremaine enjoys exploring new places near and far with her spouse, hiking with her dog Romo, and enjoying local wine tasting and spending time with family.