3 things to know to help you avoid severe COVID-19
With holiday celebrations approaching – including gatherings with friends and family – you might have COVID-19 in the back of your mind. Although it is not as prevalent as it was at its peak, it’s still something to be mindful of – especially if you have chronic conditions that might leave you more vulnerable to its effects.
The good news is, there are things you can do to help prevent contracting COVID-19 – and if you are more high-risk for its effects, there are ways to help avoid severe illness.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), factors that increase your risk of severe COVID-19 include:
- Those with other medical conditions
- Those with weakened immune systems or who are immunocompromised
- Older adults
- Pregnant or recently pregnant individuals
Here are three things to be aware of to help you protect yourself from severe illness of COVID-19.
1. Vaccinations are a key line of defense against COVID-19
Even if you do manage to get COVID-19, vaccinations can help prevent severe illness, help limit the spread of disease, and potentially shorten your recovery time. Compared to those who are up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccinations, if you’re unvaccinated you’re more likely to be hospitalized or have severe complications from COVID-19, including death. Boosters are also available, and can help restore protection that might have decreased since a previous vaccination.
2. COVID-19 treatment is available
Paxlovid is an oral antiviral drug, fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), that has been shown to treat adults with a mild or moderate case of COVID-19 and help protect those who are at high-risk of hospitalization or severe effects. Beginning Dec.1, 2023, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) made Paxlovid accessible as a $0 COVID-19 treatment through 2024 for eligible individuals without commercial insurance. With UnitedHealthcare’s Medicare Advantage plans, standalone Part D plans, and Medicaid plans, there is a $0 member cost-share for Paxlovid through the U.S. Government Patient Assistance Program operated by Pfizer. Remember, treatment1 must begin as soon as possible and within 5 days after symptoms arise in order to be effective.
3. Stay vigilant on prevention efforts
For those with elevated risk of COVID-19 complications, consider taking extra precautions to help avoid illness. This may include:
- Improving ventilation and air filtration indoors or spending more time outdoors
- Staying home if you suspect you may have COVID-19
- Avoiding others who may be sick and wearing a high-quality mask, if that’s not possible, such as an N95
- Avoiding crowded areas or increasing space and distance with others
- Washing your hands often and avoiding sharing items with others
It’s good to be prepared and know what your options are if you contract COVID-19. Contact the number on the back of your health care plan ID card or connect with your health care provider if you have specific questions about your risks.