What Mothers Can Do to Avoid Getting Sick

November 21, 2022


Janet O’Mahony, M.D., is a primary care doctor and a member of Mercy Personal Physicians Downtown. Recently Dr. O'Mahony responded to questions from SheKnows.com for a story on “What Mothers Can Do to Avoid Getting Sick”. Here are her insights:

This winter, we are already seeing large numbers of flu cases. There have been a terrible number of RSV cases (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) in the pediatric population for months, and we are still seeing plenty of COVID-19. To protect yourself and your family from these viral illnesses, you need to get the seasonal flu vaccine ASAP. We normally think of flu season as beginning in January but this has been an early flu season - starting in October. You also need to get the new Bivalent COVID booster in November. During the last two years, we have had huge numbers of COVID cases around Christmas and we are expecting a year-end surge again this year. The booster has the same strain that is in the shot we received already PLUS the current strain that is circulating now. In the future, they suspect we will likely need a booster every fall like we do with the flu shot.

Sadly, there are plenty of other bugs we do not have a vaccine for. The best protection for these in a crowded work environment or for all health care workers is to mask and use ample hand sanitizer. A good fitting N-95 mask is more effective than a cloth or surgical mask. Make sure you are washing your hands or using hand sanitizer often.

Keep home COVID tests on hand and test with the first sign of illness. The symptoms for all of these overlap and you cannot tell which virus you have without testing. Knowing whether or not you have COVID is important for treatment but also important for isolating to protect others. It is important to test the kids at the first sign of illness like fever or sniffles because this could spread from young children to the more vulnerable older family members.

Moms are high risk for viral illness because young children bring these home from preschool. The average preschooler gets seven to eight "colds" per year where the average adult gets two to three "colds" during the same period. Mothers of little children are probably somewhere in between. This makes it extra important to get vaccinated for flu and the Bivalent COVID booster. Getting enough rest, a good diet and exercise are also ways to protect yourself from severe illness.

Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Dr. O'Mahony received her medical degree from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. She completed her Internship at the Baltimore VA Medical Center and Residency at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland.

About Mercy

Founded in 1874 in Downtown Baltimore by the Sisters of Mercy, Mercy Medical Center is a 183-licensed bed, acute care, university-affiliated teaching hospital. Mercy has been recognized as a high-performing Maryland hospital (U.S. News & World Report); has achieved an overall 5-Star quality, safety, and patient experience rating (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services); is A-rated for Hospital Safety (Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade); and is certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet™ hospital. Mercy Health Services is a not-for-profit health system and the parent company of Mercy Medical Center and Mercy Personal Physicians.

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