Stay safe from respiratory illness this winter

Submitted by San Juan County Health and Community Services

Winter is here, and that means respiratory illness season is here too. Health & Community Services wants to remind everyone of five simple ways that can help protect you and your loved ones from getting sick.

Consider getting vaccinated. It’s not too late! Vaccines keep many people from getting sick with respiratory illnesses like the flu, COVID-19, and RSV. Some people who get vaccines may still get sick. However, vaccines help reduce the severity of your illness. It will also lower your chance of needing to go to the hospital.

The flu vaccine can be given to anyone six months or older. The updated COVID-19 vaccine is tailored to current variants and can be given to anyone six months or older. The RSV vaccine isn’t for everyone, but is recommended for certain people: people over 60, people who are pregnant and between 32 to 36 weeks gestation, and a monoclonal antibody is for newborns and some other high-risk infants, as recommended by their primary healthcare provider.

If your child is 18 years or younger or if you are uninsured, call HCS to ask about vaccine availability at 360-378-4474. If you are 19 and older and have insurance, contact your local pharmacy or provider to ask about vaccine availability. You can also search for availability online at

Stay home when you’re sick. If you have any of the following symptoms, stay home until you feel better: fever, sore throat, cough, sneezing, headache, nausea and/or vomiting, and diarrhea.

Consider masking. If you must go out while you are sick or if you are visiting a vulnerable family member, consider wearing a well-fitting mask to protect those around you. People are considered vulnerable if they are under six months old or over sixty years old or someone who is likely to become severely ill with an illness that seems mild to others.

Cover your cough or sneeze. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze. Put your used tissue in the waste basket and wash your hands.

Wash your hands regularly. Use soap and water. If there is no soap available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

HCS wants everyone to stay safe this winter. Following these simple steps can help protect you and your loved ones from respiratory illnesses.

For more information visit: at

DOH Respiratory Illness Data Dashboard at