The coronavirus pandemic is officially over.
At least, the federal government ended the national emergency concerning public health and COVID-19.
But life is basically back to normal, with masking and low-capacity limits in public spaces largely a thing of the past.
The coronavirus hasn’t gone anywhere, however. As we move past the pandemic and look toward the future, there are some things to keep in mind.
When should people wear a mask?
Masking requirements are mostly gone from public spaces, with healthcare facilities being the last places still requiring masks.
When should someone consider putting on a mask?
- If they have cold or cough symptoms, to protect others
- If they are around others who are immunocompromised or high-risk
- To protect themselves if they are immunocompromised, high-risk
- As a personal preference, especially when transmission levels are high
- When they’re visiting patients in the hospital
What should immunocompromised people know about?
Immunocompromised people can decrease their risk of infection by wearing a well-fitted mask (K95 or N95) when around others indoors, especially when the transmission level is high.
People who are over 65 or immunocompromised should stay up to date on COVID vaccines and get a bivalent booster. They can get a second booster if it has been more than 4 months since the last booster.
A COVID-19 infection can make older people sick enough to require hospitalization, even with mild or moderate symptoms. Boosters have been shown to decrease the likelihood of getting infected and getting hospitalized.
Remember, there are effective antiviral treatments that people can take if they get infected. It is important to get tested quickly and, if positive, start antiviral medication promptly. Paxlovid interacts with some medications, so it is important to review your medications with your doctor and pharmacist when you are prescribed Paxlovid.
Are there any updated COVID vaccines people should get?
The Centers for Disease Control and Food and Drug Administration have issued updated COVID vaccine guidelines. These changes include:
- A new recommendation to allow an additional updated (bivalent) vaccine dose for adults ages 65 years and older and additional doses for people who are immunocompromised. This provides more flexibility for healthcare providers to administer additional doses to immunocompromised patients as needed.
- Monovalent (original) mRNA COVID-19 vaccines will no longer be recommended for use in the United States.
- A recommendation that everyone age 6 years and older receive an updated (bivalent) mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of whether they previously completed their (monovalent) primary series. Those who have already received an updated mRNA vaccine do not need to take any action unless they are 65 years or older or immunocompromised.
- For young children, multiple doses continue to be recommended and will vary by age, vaccine, and which vaccines were previously received.
It’s always a good idea to continue personal health hygiene, such as frequent handwashing, staying home when you’re sick, and covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.