Health lessons from 2021 for 2022Sunday, January 02, 2022
Dr Ché Bowen
THE year 2021 has come to an end and although it came with many challenges, it left us with many lessons. Particularly, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, we have learned much more about our health and protecting ourselves and our loved ones as we continue to battle this global health crisis.
We have learned a few healthy habits and resources that will continue to be useful as we head into 2022. Keep reading as we go through some of these important lessons.
1. Vaccines are important in infection control
A key instrument in fighting COVID-19 is vaccines. Data produced during 2020 and 2021 have shown us how efficient vaccines are in protecting us from severe illness, hospitalisation and death. Those who have already been vaccinated are encouraged to receive a booster shot six months after their second dose. Vaccines will also soon be made available to younger populations as research is completed in 2022. This will allow our kids to also be protected from the virus. Those who have not yet been vaccinated continue to be encouraged to do so as we enter 2022. New variants, including the Omicron variant, have reminded us of the importance of being protected as we continue to fight this virus.
2. Proper hygiene and physical distancing habits limit the spread of disease
Practising proper hygiene, such as washing your hands frequently (especially after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose) as well as sanitising and wearing a mask, have been ingrained in us ever since the start of the pandemic. We have also been encouraged to keep social gatherings at a minimum and maintain our distance as best as we can. These practices and habits have been proven means of fighting the pandemic and they will continue to be habits we should carry forward into 2022 as long as COVID-19 is still a risk.
3. Protect your mental health
The holiday season is mentally challenging for many of us. Additionally, having to experience another holiday with the anxieties of getting yourself or others sick continues to weigh heavy on many of our minds. While it may be hard for some to find positivity moving into the new year, it is important to do your best to protect your mental health as best as you can. Prioritise resting and ensure you continue to eat healthy, exercise and discuss any of your challenges with a loved one or professional. We are all in this together and we will make it through the pandemic once we look out for each other and ourselves. Protecting your mental health should continue to be a priority for you in 2022.
4. Telehealth is important
Technology has been one aspect of the pandemic that has allowed life to carry on smoothly amidst all the disruptions. Technology has aided in all factors of our lives but one important way has been through health care and providing telemedicine services. Whether you live far away from a health-care provider, you don't have much time to waste in a waiting room, or you want to protect yourself from the possibility of contracting COVID in this environment, telemedicine can and has been helpful in these instances. If you haven't yet benefited from the services offered by telemedicine you can try it during the new year. Whether you're suffering from non-emergent illnesses, want some medical advice or need a prescription, you can call, text or video chat with a healthcare provider through telemedicine services. You will receive medical treatment quickly and comfortably wherever you may be located. This is not only reliable but a completely safe means of combining healthcare and technology.
While 2021 has ended, the pandemic has not. The Omicron variant of the COVID-19 poses a huge risk to us here in Jamaica. This variant spreads faster than previous variants. If you are vaccinated you will experience milder symptoms if infected with the Omicron variant; however, it should not be taken lightly. The high transmissibility of this variant calls for more frequent and routine testing to ensure you are not infected and can easily pass onto someone else. If you are infected, you will still need to isolate and maintain the adequate protocol for COVID-19 patients.
Further, 2022 will come with its own successes and challenges. Putting your mental and physical health first is crucial as we continue living through these challenging times. Do your best to stay positive and safe while carrying forward all the great habits that have made 2021 easier for all of us.
Dr Ché Bowen, a digital health entrepreneur and family physician, is the CEO & founder of MDLink, a digital health company that provides telemedicine options. Check out the company's website at www.theMDLink.com. You can also contact him at email@example.com.