Be Kind to Those You Love, Protect Them from COVID-19

As the pandemic continues, being kind to those you love includes making special efforts to protect them from COVID-19. Over the past year, everyone has had to modify behavior to safeguard themselves and others, and attention has been especially necessary for those most at risk for severe outcomes. While we miss holding the people we most cherish and seeing them in person, we must remember to follow the steps that greatly reduce chances of being exposed and, in turn, exposing them to the virus.

As a reminder, everyone should:

  • Practice good hygiene: cover coughs and sneezes, don't touch your face, and wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds or more.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick, even inside your home.
  • Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others not in your household.
  • Always wear face masks when in public.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently used items and touched surfaces often.

Measures such as these will help reduce your chance of exposure to the virus or spreading it to others, but these actions are not all we can do. Vaccines work with your immune system, so it will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. We are encouraged that two highly effective vaccines are now being administered to Alabamians, and additional products are expected to be authorized in the near future. There are multiple benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) informs us, routine processes and procedures have remained in place to ensure the safety of any vaccine that is authorized or approved for use. The combination of getting vaccinated and following CDC’s recommendations will offer the best protection for your family, friends, and other people from COVID-19.

Another way to be kind to loved ones is to help ensure they see their healthcare providers regularly. People with underlying conditions are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. According to our COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Plan, high-risk medical conditions include but are not limited to the following: cancer; chronic kidney disease; COPD; heart conditions such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies; immunocompromised state; solid organ transplant; obesity (body mass index greater than 30); sickle cell disease; smoking; type 1 and 2 diabetes; and pregnancy.

Show your love by encouraging your loved ones to take their prescribed medications, maintain a heart healthy diet, drink plenty of water, get sufficient sleep, and engage in physical activity such as walking. Avoid any unnecessary travel, but if seeing them in person, please be consistent in wearing a mask, social distancing, and limiting the duration of your interactions. If you do not live in the same household, make efforts to connect with loved ones by visiting virtually by video chats, e-mailing, texting, or phoning on a regular basis. Older persons especially may appreciate receiving cards and letters.

The younger generation needs special care. Parents should make and keep appointments for their children’s well-child visits, screenings, and childhood immunizations. In addition to COVID-19, diseases such as measles, influenza, and pertussis can spread easily. Parents should get a flu vaccine themselves, which will also help protect others who may be more vulnerable to severe illness, including babies, young children, and pregnant women. Parents should help their children stay active through regular physical activity each day.

Being kind to those you love doesn’t stop with your family and friends. Remember to be kind to healthcare providers and caretakers who are overworked and most likely overstressed. The pandemic has been especially difficult for parents who have taken on the responsibility of home schooling and educators at all levels, so be understanding of their needs and provide extra help when possible for them as well as students. Be kind to the many people personally impacted by this virus with the loss of family or friends.

Finally, care for others in your community by delaying your vaccination if you have no underlying health issues or have limited contact with other people. This will allow neighbors at higher risk to schedule their COVID-19 vaccinations ahead of you. Please be patient and wait to schedule your own appointment, because the supply of COVID-19 vaccine is expected to remain limited in the months ahead. Being kind to your loved ones during this pandemic means doing your part to prevent COVID-19 and save lives.

Scott Harris, M.D.
State Health Officer