LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – As Memorial Day approaches, many people are planning for a pre-pandemic style of celebration with parades, family gatherings, and memorial services to honor fallen veterans.
But infectious disease experts are still asking for caution during the weekend, the unofficial kickoff to summer. That’
That’s especially true for people who not been unvaccinated.
Despite the lifting of pandemic restrictions and the lowering of infection rates, COVID-19 is still evident in the community.
Mark Dougherty, MD, an infectious disease specialist at Baptist Health Lexington, is still seeing numerous patients with the disease
“Currently we have COVID inpatients at Baptist Health Lexington,” he said Monday.
Those who have had COVID-19 and think they have immunity should still get the vaccine, health experts say.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people should be vaccinated regardless of whether they already had COVID-19, because experts don’t yet know how long people are protected from getting sick again.
Dr. Dougherty also notes the possibility of several known variants.
“If you had COVID before and get exposed to one of those variants, which we expect to be increasing over time, we think that you will be able to get re-infected by those more contagious and more virulent variants,” he said.
For those who are unvaccinated, even an outdoor meal at a restaurant can be unsafe if they are dining with people from multiple households. Crowds at outdoor concerts, parades, or sports events hold even more danger of contracting the virus.
While the CDC has lifted many of its quarantine mandates for fully vaccinated people, it offers the following guidelines for unvaccinated people to lower the risk of contracting COVID-19:
- Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth to help protect yourself and others.
- Stay 6 feet apart from others who don’t live with you.
- Get a COVID-19 vaccine when it is available to you.
- Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.
Dr. Dougherty encourages everyone to get vaccinated now.
With that simple step, the current COVID cases at Baptist Health Lexington could have been completely avoided.
“All of those could have been prevented by the vaccine. From my standpoint, that’s the shame about the whole thing. All of this is preventable,” he said.
For more information about getting a vaccine, go to Vaccinefinder.org.