Walgreens pharmacist Danielle Hambrick shares seven tips on precautions you can take to stay one step ahead of those nasty viruses—whether you’re driving to grandma’s house, flying halfway around the world or just staying put and attending the revival of your office holiday party—so you can enjoy holidays that are healthy and happy.
- Get vaccinated. Get boosted. But give yourself enough time. “Vaccines and boosters are the best defense against viruses like COVID-19 and influenza, period,” says Hambrick. “But it’s important to know that most vaccines and boosters need two weeks to become fully active in your body and able to fight off viruses. When I give someone a shot, I describe it as your army starting to assemble, but you’ve got two weeks until the full army is ready to fight. So, you’ve got to give yourself some time; don’t wait until the last minute before you travel because you won’t be as protected as you could be.” That said, Hambrick acknowledges it’s still better to get a shot at the last minute than to forego it entirely. “The full army won’t be ready, but at least you’ll have some soldiers assembled at the front lines,” she says.
- To be safe, have tests available. A variety of COVID tests are now readily available, including same day over-the-counter rapid antigen tests, which are covered by most insurance plans*. You can submit your order on Walgreens.com or order direct from the pharmacy and have them bill your insurance directly. “I recommend having OTC test kits on hand when you’re planning to be around family and friends, because you want to do your best to keep everyone safe,” says Hambrick.
- Mask up. “Wearing a mask became a hot button topic during COVID, but really, it’s a good way to protect others from the spread of airborne viruses like COVID, influenza and RSV, especially in enclosed spaces with lots of people like airplanes and airports,” she says. “Walgreens owned brand face masks are an affordable and effective means of preventing the spread of viruses.”
- Wash your hands. “It’s a simple rule that was important even before the COVID-19 pandemic, but it bears repeating: Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly with soap and water, and use sanitizer when they’re not readily available, like on a plane,” says Hambrick. “One thing to watch with constantly using soap and sanitizer is they tend to dry out your skin, which can lead it to painful cracking. So, I recommend using a moisturizing hand lotion like Walgreens Ultra Restoring Lotion.”
- Take good care of yourself. “Your immune system is at its strongest when you take care of yourself. Before you travel, make a point to get enough sleep, eat healthy foods, drink plenty of water and exercise regularly. Your body will respond positively and make you less susceptible to getting sick.”
- Take it easy on the alcohol. Holiday drinks are as much a part of the season as mistletoe and Mariah Carey, but Hambrick warns that excessive consumption can make you more susceptible to getting sick. “Alcohol in moderation is fine, but too much can weaken your immune system and lower your line of defense against viruses.”
- If you do get sick…First of all, stay home, then consult with a pharmacist on the Walgreens app to understand the best treatment options. “Pharmacists will discuss your symptoms and ask other questions about your health background to make more informed recommendations for how to help you feel better,” says Hambrick. “This will allow you to buy the right products for what you need, which you can then order online and have delivered to your door the same day.”
This holiday season, Walgreens is making it easier than ever to get all of your travel and last-minute holiday essentials with 24-Hour Same Day Delivery available from nearly 400 Walgreens locations across the country. More than 27,000 items are available for delivery at Walgreens.com/SameDayDelivery.
*At-home COVID-19 testing is available at no cost to you for patients ages 3 and older. Select insurance plans may cover the cost of at-home COVID-19 tests. Limits apply to the number of tests covered per person per month. After a patient submits an order, Walgreens will attempt to confirm eligibility and copay amounts with their insurance provider.