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Thursday, December 7, 2023

CDC Director Dr. Mandy Cohen offers COVID caution for the holidays

EAST MEADOW, N.Y. – The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came home for the holidays with an important health message. 

Dr. Mandy Cohen toured Nassau University Medical Center Monday. 

It was a house call, of sorts, from the new CDC director to her hometown hospital, N.U.M.C. 

“I grew up down the street in Baldwin, so I’m here for Thanksgiving,” Cohen said. 

Cohen was named CDC director in July. She has a message for everyone gathering with family. 

“There are ways to protect yourself, even this week. So i hope you got vaccinated, and if you didn’t it’s not too late. Make sure to get that updated COVID shot, flu shot, and, if you’re over 60, RSV shot,” Cohen said. 

N.U.M.C. was hit hard by COVID, and it’s still a threat. But only 14% of adults have gotten the updated vaccine. 

“We figured we better do it. Be on the safe side,” one person said. 

“I have not gotten the new COVID vaccine. Not really interested in it,” said another. 

So what’s Cohen’s message to a weary public? 

“I wouldn’t recommend something I wouldn’t recommend for my own parents, for my own daughters,” Cohen said. “The most important reason is this virus changes. COVID has changed and flu has changed. You want the most updated protection you can get.” 

“Nearly 1,000 people have died in New York in just the last three months. So it’s still here, and unfortunately still taking peoples lives,” Cohen added.  

And still, she said, causing long COVID. Also important is the flu shot. 

“It’s here, and here with a vengeance,” pediatrician Dr. John Zaso said of the fly. 

While in short supply, Cohen said the maker of the new RSV shot for newborns just released another 70,000 doses. 

“I know folks are frustrated. I am as well. Call your pediatrician. It is out there. We want babies at high risk to get access to that vaccine,” Cohen said. 

With her own mother, a nurse, along for a visit, Cohen has a motherly reminder for the holidays. 

“Wash your hands. Stay home if you’re sick. Masks do work, so wearing a mask if you’re around a lot of other people. And don’t forget ventilation – open a window,” she said. 

Cohen adds if you do get sick, stay home and test yourself. There are specific treatments that can save your life. 

Just Monday, the CDC announced every household in the country can get four more free COVID tests

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