Health Academy Part 3: COVID-19, Vaccines, and your Health

Learn about safety best practices you should adopt for your health during this pandemic. Plus, learn about COVID-19 research at IU. Counts toward Hot Shot badge.

Healthy Practices and COVID-19

During the pandemic, there are certain things you should do to stay healthy!

1. Wear a face mask.

Putting a face covering over your mouth and nose isn’t all that comfortable, but it is important because it helps prevent the spread of infection. When an infected person coughs, sneezes, or even talks, they could release germs into the air that may infect others nearby. Having a face mask on helps eliminate cross-contamination. Even if you don’t feel sick or have COVID-19 symptoms, you should still wear a mask. This is because people can be asymptomatic (not feel sick) and transmit the virus.

2. Wash hands frequently.

People who are contagious may sneeze or cough on objects and touch surfaces, leaving infected droplets behind. Hand washing kills germs. You should wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. Everybody knows the song “Happy Birthday,” right? Sing that twice to yourself while washing your hands and that will take about 20 seconds!

3. Stay six feet apart.

Have you heard of the term “social distancing” before? This is a term meant to remind people that they should stay distanced from people outside of their household. The virus spreads between people. If someone is sick with COVID-19, they can spread the virus to other people when they inhale or exhale air through their respiratory droplets.

4. Stay active.

Despite the changes to your normal routine, you should still try to be as physically active as possible. Sit less, walk more! Do you have some sidewalk chalk? Draw an outdoor obstacle course for yourself that involves jumping, skipping, and hopping!

5. Stay connected.

You might not be able to visit family members besides those that you live with, but that doesn’t mean you can’t spend time with them over a video chat! Staying connected with the people that you know will make differences in routine feel more tolerable. During the pandemic, there are certain things you should do to stay healthy!

6. Get enough sleep.

Make sure you are getting enough sleep so that your body has time to recharge. Sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.

7. Get a flu shot.

During the winter both the flu and COVID-19 will be around. A flu shot does not protect against COVID-19, but it does reduce the risk of any serious flu related illness and therefore your need for medical attention. It is likely that health care facilities will become quite busy and saving healthcare resources for the care of COVID-19 patients is important.


Vaccines

How do they work?

A vaccine works by training the immune system to recognize and combat pathogens, either viruses or bacteria. To do this, certain molecules from the pathogen must be introduced into the body to trigger an immune response. These molecules are called antigens. By injecting the antigens into the body, the immune system safely learns how to recognize and fight hostile invaders. If they appear again, the immune system will recognize the antigens and attack before the pathogen spreads.

Why are vaccines important?

Vaccines have reduced and, in some cases, eliminated many diseases that killed or severely disabled people just a few generations ago. For example, the smallpox vaccination eradicated that disease worldwide. If we continue vaccinating thoroughly, we can help eradicate certain diseases for future generations.

Vaccination is safe.

Developing a vaccine takes multiple stages and each stage of the process is carefully reviewed. When a vaccine is administered to a patient, there can be some initial discomfort, especially at the site of the injection. But, this is minimal compared to any health problems associated with a disease. The disease prevention benefits of getting vaccines are much greater than the possible side effects.

Where to get vaccines

Getting vaccinated is convenient. You can go to your doctor’s office but many vaccines are available at local pharmacies, health centers, health departments, and travel clinics.

COVID-19 and vaccination

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, researchers have been rushing to develop an effective vaccine. Work began in January with deciphering of the SARS-COV-2 genome. Vaccine development goes through many trials and clinical tests before they are deemed effective. Of those in trail some will fail, and others can end without clear results. But a few trails may succeed in stimulating the immune system to produce effective antibodies against the virus.


Test your COVID-19 Knowledge

Identify whether the following statements are true or false.

Hear about COVID-19 Research at IU

Indiana University’s vice president for research, Fred Cate, talks about a few of the ongoing and groundbreaking types of research going on around the COVID-19 pandemic. Cate says it would be hard to find a part of life in Indiana that research at IU hasn’t been touching. Listen to hear details of some of the interesting work going on around the IU system.


Downloadable Versions of these Resources