Thursday, October 6, 2022

Health Officials Share Reminders for Safe Large Gatherings

With several events happening in the coming weeks and months in Austin-Travis County, Austin Public Health (APH) officials urge the public to celebrate safely.  

“Our community has worked hard to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and monkeypox, but we can’t let up,” said Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes. “We are starting to see clusters of influenza so now is the time to get your flu shot. Let’s continue practices that we know work to celebrate safely. Wash your hands, social distance and stay home if you feel sick.” 

COVID-19, flu and monkeypox are in our community. Prevention strategies can protect you from all three viruses. 

  • Being fully clothed and avoiding skin-to-skin contact with strangers.  
  • Washing your hands and use hand sanitation often. 
  • Limiting close and or/intimate contact to people you know.  
    • Close contact includes sharing items like drinks and blankets. 
  • Practicing social distancing while around large groups. 
  • Wearing well-fitting masks in close quarters when social distancing isn’t possible to reduce sharing mouth/nasal fluids. 
  • Being aware of symptoms. 
    • COVID-19: Fever, cough, fatigue, sore throat, shortness of breath, congestion/runny nose, headache and muscle aches. 
    • Flu: Fever, cough, fatigue, sore throat, congestion/runny nose, headache and muscle aches. 
    • Monkeypox: Along with rash, symptoms include fever, headache and muscle aches, chills, and swollen lymph nodes.  
  • Staying home if you feel sick or experience any symptoms

Testing before and after attending gatherings will help you make informed decisions. COVID-19 PCR and rapid antigen (at-home) tests are available through APH as well as local pharmacies. Flu tests are available at local pharmacies and doctors’ offices. Testing for monkeypox is available through health care providers. 

Anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, flu or monkeypox should get tested and stay home to prevent spreading the viruses to others. 

“We’re excited to be able to return to our favorite activities thanks to all the tools that are widely available in our community,” said APH Director Adrienne Sturrup. “I encourage everyone to get up to date with their vaccines and after attending a large gathering, test if you feel any symptoms, even if it's a sniffle.” 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention created a website to help you find COVID-19 vaccine and flu vaccine providers near you. Monkeypox vaccines are currently limited to those who are at-risk for the virus. Complete this form to determine if you are eligible for a monkeypox vaccine.