Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Get Ready Mailbag: What is Monkeypox?

Welcome to another installment of the Get Ready Mailbag, when we take time to answer questions sent our way by readers like you! Have a question you want answered? Send an email to 

Q: I live in the U.S. Should I be worried about monkeypox? 

Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regnery,
 courtesy CDC PHIL 

We understand your concern. Monkeypox has been in the news a lot lately. But don’t panic! Knowing what monkeypox is and how to avoid it will help you be prepared. 

Monkeypox is nothing new. It was first discovered in 1958 when monkeys got sick with a rash. The first human case of monkeypox was in 1970. So, why are we hearing so much about it now? That’s because there is a 2022 outbreak of monkeypox. This means the disease was found in countries that normally don’t have it, including the United States

There is no reason to panic, but you should watch out for the disease and use good hygiene to avoid getting sick. 

As of July 12, the U.S. has a total of 929 monkeypox cases. The CDC is frequently updating its map of cases by state. 

Look out for these symptoms of monkeypox and go to the doctor immediately if you have any, especially a rash.  

Symptoms include: 

· Fever 

· Headache 

· Body aches 

· Chills 

· Feeling very tired 

· A rash 

A rash is very common with monkeypox. The rash is usually found on the face, mouth, hands and feet but can be located anywhere on the body. The rash typically looks like pimples, blisters or scabs. It can be itchy or painful. There is treatment available for people who get very sick, but this is rare. Most people get better on their own in 2-4 weeks. 

Monkeypox mostly spreads through skin-to-skin contact, saliva and by touching something an infected person has touched. Monkeypox spreads easily during sexual activity, but it is NOT a sexually transmitted disease. This means that it is not spread through vaginal fluid or semen, but it can spread through contact with skin or saliva which are common during sexual activities. Talk to your partner about any new sicknesses or unexplained rashes or sores. If you or your partner are feeling unwell or have a rash, avoid having sex or do so without saliva or skin-to-skin contact. In general, the best way to prevent getting monkeypox is to not touch a person with the illness or anything they have touched.  Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer, especially after being in public areas, to stay healthy.  

There are vaccines available to prevent monkeypox. The CDC recommends that men who have sex with men, who are currently at a higher risk, and people who have been exposed to monkeypox get vaccinated. It is also highly recommended that all individuals get vaccinated against smallpox. Since smallpox and monkeypox are similar, studies have shown that having the smallpox vaccine lowers your chances of getting monkeypox by 85%. The CDC has more information about vaccinations on its website. 


Thursday, June 30, 2022

Celebrating red, white and blue? Here are some safety tips for you

A mom puts sunscreen on a toddler. Both are wearing sunhats and light colored clothing.
By Lostinbids, courtesy iStockphoto
The Fourth of July is almost here! Whether you’re going to see fireworks, spending time with loved ones or just enjoying the sun, it’s important to stay safe in the summer heat. Follow these tips to get ready for summer fun! 


When heading out for the Fourth, remember to bring a mask and hand sanitizer. As people gather to celebrate, crowds will form. COVID-19 spreads easier when a lot of people are close together, especially indoors. Wear a mask and keep your distance to lower your risk of getting sick. Keep in mind that the summer heat can make the mask you’re wearing sweaty or damp. Swap your mask for a new one if this happens. Bring extras and wear your mask over your nose and mouth to avoid the spread COVID-19. 

Summer heat 

While the sunshine is nice, it’s important to drink water and stay cool when outdoors. Apply sunscreen before heading outside to prevent painful sunburns. The FDA recommends using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 and reapplying at least every two hours to keep your skin protected. Apply more often if you’re in the water or sweaty. Wear a hat, sunglasses and light-colored clothing to stay cool in the hot sun. Remember to drink a lot of water to stay hydrated. Steer clear of alcohol and caffeine because these will dehydrate you faster. 

Bug bites

Want to avoid itchy, puffy bug bites? Use insect repellent, or “bug spray,” before heading outside, especially in the evening. Look for a spray with DEET in it for the best bug protection. DEET is safe for everyone to use, even if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants will also prevent bites from mosquitos and other bugs. 

Follow these tips to have a safe and fun Fourth of July and summer! You can find more information on staying healthy and safe this summer from Get Ready. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Get Ready for Thanksgiving: Ways to keep your loved ones safe this holiday

The holiday season is finally here! After so much time apart, many people are excited to reunite with their family and friends for Thanksgiving on Thursday, Nov. 24. This year, many families are back in the holiday spirit and can't wait to return to their favorite holiday traditions. 

As you and your family prepare for Thanksgiving, make sure health and safety are also in your plan. Get Ready has new social media shareables to help spread good health and good cheer this holiday season. Check them out here:

COVID-19 Safety

Like 2020, celebrating the holidays looks different with COVID-19 still around. But there are many safe ways to enjoy the holidays. One way to stay protected is to ensure that all eligible family members get their COVID-19 vaccinations before coming together on Thanksgiving. While the CDC has recently approved vaccination for anyone above the age of 5 years old, some of our friends and family members still may not be fully vaccinated in time for the holidays. The CDC says that getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and those that aren't eligible like young children and high medical risk family members. 

Some of our family members are at higher risk for the COVID-19 virus, and it's important to think about their safety and protection. 

If you are feeling sick or have any COVID-19 symptoms, don't pass it along to others at the dinner table. Keep your friends and family healthy by staying home until you are symptom-free. Vaccinations and other safety practices like mask-wearing, frequent hand-washing and avoiding large crowds of people outside your friends and family will help reduce everyone's risk for COVID-19 during Thanksgiving. 

Before traveling, the CDC recommends that you check the current COVID-19 situation where you’re visiting. The CDC has a helpful tracker that shows how the virus may be spreading in communities. Share this tracker and other CDC travel recommendations with your family and friends to keep them informed before traveling this holiday season. 

Food safety

COVID-19 is not the only illness that can spread on Turkey Day. Food-borne illnesses are also common during the holidays. The USDA says that your turkey and stuffing is not safe to eat until it reaches 165° F. Using a food thermometer, check the internal temperature of your turkey in three places: the thickest part of the breast, the innermost wing and the innermost thigh. If your turkey has not reached a safe temperature in all three places, it’s not ready yet. Simply give it more time to cook in the oven. Wait about 20 minutes for the juices to settle into the turkey before carving. Now your fully cooked and healthy turkey is ready to serve at the Thanksgiving dinner table. Check out the USDA’s helpful infographics to learn more about food safety during the holidays. 

You can prevent food-borne illnesses by having clean hands. Before, during, and after handling your turkey, wash your hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds. Washing your hands helps fight germs and will keep you and your family healthy at Thanksgiving dinner. The CDC has more tips on how to keep your holiday turkey and stuffing safe and healthy for your guests to enjoy. 

Fire safety 

Emergencies like house fires and other disasters can still happen during the holidays. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association says that Thanksgiving is peak time for home cooking fires.  Fires are one of the quickest ways to cut Thanksgiving dinner short. Most cooking fires in the home involve the kitchen stove

Avoid cooking fires by staying close to your stovetop and setting a timer for your food. Whether you are frying in the kitchen or grilling outside, don’t leave your food or heat unattended and especially keep children away from cooking areas. Even if you are away for a short time, turn off the stove to save you and your family from a fire at home. The Red Cross has a list of ways to prevent fires on Thanksgiving that you can learn about before hosting this holiday. 

Thanksgiving should be spent spreading gratitude and love, instead of COVID-19, food-borne illnesses or cooking fires. Together we can have a safe and healthy holiday season!

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Double protection is worth a shot...or two!

Bring in the fall by getting ready for flu season! Flu season can begin as early as October and last until May. However, the flu virus tends to spread the most between December and February. This year, flu season arrives while we’re still battling COVID-19. To protect yourself against both viruses, getting your flu and COVID-19 vaccinations will be super important this season. 

While 2020-2021 brought low seasonal flu activity, CDC expects that flu cases will spike back up earlier than usual this season. Last season, flu activity was down because of COVID-19 safety measures. Wearing masks and staying six feet apart in public places helped people stay protected against the flu. 

This flu season will not look like any other year. Schools, offices, and other public places are reopening with fewer social distancing rules. People are traveling again and returning to activities. They may be near larger crowds or be more reluctant to wear a mask. Now is the best time to learn about ways to protect yourself from both the flu and COVID-19. For more information on preventing the flu, check out Get Ready’s fact sheets. 

Get Ready is preparing communities for flu and COVID-19 season in its newest infographic about both vaccines. Share this infographic with your friends and family to get everyone on board with double protection this year! 

The vaccines are super safe. Each protects you from a different virus. You can even get them at the same time. COVID-19 vaccines are free to everyone in the U.S. You can get a flu shot for little to no cost. Vaccines are protections that work together with hand-washing and mask wearing. Every shot is worth a lot. It helps your family, friends and community stay healthy together!

Here are four things to keep in mind when getting both flu and COVID-19 vaccines: 

1. Safety

The CDC says both vaccinations are safe and effective. You can even get both shots in the same visit. The  flu and COVID-19 are serious infections that can spread quickly from person to person. Both viruses spread from droplets that we all exhale. A simple cough or sneeze from one person with the flu or COVID-19 can make other people sick. Getting both vaccines will help your body fight off illness and reduce the spread of both viruses. 

2. Cost and Access

In the United States, everyone ages 12 years and older can get their COVID-19 vaccination for free.  Use this vaccine locator tool to find the closest vaccine site to you. 

Anyone over 6 months old can get a flu shot. You can get a flu shot for free or low cost, especially if you have health insurance. Many local health departments, grocery stores, schools and workplaces offer them for free, too. 
Schedule both flu and COVID-19 shots as soon as you're available. The CDC recommends everyone get their flu shots before the end of October.

3. Staying Protected

Vaccinations are extra layers of protection. But they can’t prevent every case of COVID or flu. They should be paired with other health and safety measures. Wash your hands often and wear your mask when around others. Get Ready has helpful guides on hand-washing.

4. Community Impact 

Getting both vaccinations helps protect you and others around you. Sometimes people with health conditions have immune systems that are not strong enough to fight against viruses on their own. When more people get their flu and COVID-19 vaccinations, their communities can be healthier.  

Every shot is worth a lot this fall and winter!  

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Plan, protect and pack up for Get Ready Day

Get Ready Day is almost here! It’s a great time for you to make sure you’re prepared for an emergency. Every year, Get Ready Day is held on the third Tuesday in September to celebrate National Preparedness Month to help our families and local communities stay safe and healthy. With hurricane season and COVID-19 still going strong, this year's Get Ready Day on Sept. 21 will be packed with the key tools that you, your family and friends need to get through both disasters! 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warns communities to prepare for an above-average hurricane season in 2021. While the Atlantic hurricane season started on June 1, it has no signs of slowing down until after Nov. 30. Get Ready has fact sheets in English and Spanish to help you prepare for hurricanes and other natural disasters. Use the National Hurricane Center’s interactive map to track the hurricane risks for your area. 

The pandemic means your hurricane prep might look a little different this year. Get Ready has released a new infographic to highlight how to protect yourself and your family during the hurricane season. You can share this infographic so everyone knows how to start the 3 P’s on Get Ready Day:

3 P's to prepare for COVID-19 and hurricane season
Plan: You and your family should plan your safest evacuation route now. If you need to go to a shelter, choose one that isn't overcrowded to reduce the COVID-19 risks. Follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s tips for protecting yourself and your community

Protect: Protect yourself and those around you by getting your COVID-19 vaccine (one or two shots, depending on which one you get) before the actual emergency. The vaccine is safe and reduces your risk of getting COVID-19. If you do catch the virus, you are less likely to be very sick. Getting sick during a hurricane is dangerous. Emergency workers and hospitals are harder to reach and busier during and after a disaster. It’s important to take this step for your health and safety. 

Pack: Your go-bag needs a few extra items this year. Grab them before the emergency! Make sure to prepare a stockpile of masks, hand sanitizer, bottled water and other medical supplies for hurricane season.

Now that you have your 3 P’s, celebrate emergency preparedness on Sept. 21!