How Not to Get Sick With a Virus This Fall

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You may have noticed an uptick in cases of the common cold, COVID-19, respiratory syncytial virus, and influenza this fall. You may take precautions against being sick, so your fate is not written in stone. Dr. Dean Winslow, an infectious disease expert and professor of medicine at Stanford University, has been consulted by Everyday Health to help you get through this difficult period. This essay delves into his thoughts and methods for staying fit and healthy in the fall.

Navigating the Fall Health Landscape

As the season progresses, people are curious as to where COVID-19, the flu, and RSV will go. Dr. Winslow offers his thoughts on the matter:

Dean Winslow, MD:

In general, we expect a rise in reports during the next few weeks. There may be more cases of COVID than have been documented, primarily due to self-diagnosis with quick antigen tests, even though the overall number of cases has decreased slightly. Many people have immunity because they have had the disease before or because they have been vaccinated. As a result, fewer people will need medical attention in 2022 than in 2020 and 2021. We can anticipate a rise in incidence rates later in the year, when influenza and RSV are at their peak.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has already issued an RSV notice, indicating an uptick in cases in the Southeast. This may herald the start of the 2023–24 RSV season on a nationwide scale. Moreover, flu case counts have been low compared to what they usually are in late fall and winter, according to statistics collected by the CDC.

Understanding the Recent Uptick in COVID-19 Deaths

According to the CDC, the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 rose by 8 percent in the week ending September 23. What this entails is discussed by Dr. Winslow:

According to Dr. Dean Winslow, “it’s likely that these deaths are among the most vulnerable parts of the population, such as older folks, those with underlying health concerns, and pregnant women. Our cellular immunity declines with aging. The majority of COVID-19-related hospitalizations in 2023 were for patients aged 65 and older, according to a report published by the CDC on October 6. Unfortunately, only about a quarter of these elderly people had gotten the bivalent COVID-19 vaccine.

Protective Measures for Staying Healthy

·       This fall, Dr. Winslow suggests taking the following precautions to avoid respiratory illnesses:

Dr. Dean Winslow says that anyone who meet the requirements should get vaccinated against influenza, the new omicron booster, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The CDC recommends obtaining the RSV vaccine between 32 and 36 weeks pregnant to protect your unborn child from severe RSV. Nirsevimab is a new treatment for RSV that has been approved for use in newborns and a select number of toddlers. You should still go ahead and buy some omicron booster as soon as possible, even if it isn’t widely available just now. It will likely receive all three vaccinations at once for safety purposes. However, because RSV activity may not peak until late in the fall, you may want to space them out.

Additional Protective Measures

·       Dr. Winslow recommends the following safety measures in addition to vaccination:

According to Dr. Dean Winslow, “extra precautions, such as wearing masks and avoiding crowded spaces, should be considered during this virus season.” For my own protection and to avoid unwittingly transmitting the illness if I am asymptomatic, I always wear a mask when I am in a crowded indoor area for a lengthy duration. This is a mature way of thinking. It’s not just those in close quarters who should think about wearing a mask. When I go into a patient’s room, for instance, I always put on a mask.

What to Do When You Feel Unwell

·       Dr. Winslow advises swift action at the first sign of cold symptoms including a cough, runny nose, or scratchy throat.

According to Dr. Dean Winslow: “It is critical to test oneself for COVID if you have any respiratory symptoms. Each household in the United States is entitled to four free COVID-19 fast tests beginning on September 25. The first few days of having symptoms are the most contagious, therefore it’s best to quarantine oneself. Coughing and sneezing are effective vectors for the propagation of certain infections. You may assist stop the spread of the sick ness by staying inside and washing your hands often. Consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan if your symptoms are severe or if you fall into a high-risk category. Many people can get over a virus with just a few days of bed rest and plenty of fluids.


While fall ushers in the threat of respiratory sick ness, taking proactive measures and following the guidance of medical experts like Dr. Dean Winslow can significantly reduce your risk. With vaccination, masking, and responsible behavior, you can navigate the fall season with confidence and safeguard your health.


Is it safe to get the flu, omicron booster, and RSV vaccines simultaneously?

Vaccination with all three is safe, albeit the timing of the RSV peak may necessitate spacing them apart.

How can I protect myself when I’m in crowded indoor spaces?

If you will be in close proximity to other people, it is recommended that you wear a mask. This safeguards you and any people who might be around when you contract a virus.

What should I do if I experience symptoms of sick ness?                                 

Isolate yourself and exercise proper hand hygiene if you test positive for COVID-19 after experiencing respiratory symptoms. Seek medical attention if your symptoms persist or if you are at an increased risk.

Are there any specific recommendations for pregnant individuals to protect against respiratory sick ness?

If a pregnant woman is between 32 and 36 weeks along, she should obtain the RSV vaccine to protect herself and her unborn child against the potentially fatal effects of the virus sick ness.

Why is it important for older individuals to take extra precautions?          

Due to age-related declines in cellular immunity, the elderly are more vulnerable to the severe effects of respiratory viruses as COVID-19 and influenza. Taking extra precautions is essential for their protection.

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