The more layers you have, the safer you’ll be from viruses

Protect yourself Swiss cheese style, says Sanford CMO Allison Suttle, MD

Illustration of Swiss cheese with holes, each slice labeled with a different COVID-19 precaution: getting vaccinated, wearing a face mask, washing hands, social distancing, staying home if you're sick.

Layering the way you protect yourself against the coronavirus is critical to prevent the spread.

That’s according to Sanford Health Chief Medical Officer Allison Suttle, M.D., who uses an analogy about Swiss cheese to send a valuable message on safety.

“If you think about the ability for yourself to get sick, it’s almost like a bunch of pieces of Swiss cheese,” Dr. Suttle explains. “There’s a hole in each one. If the holes line up just right, you can still get the virus.”

The eventual COVID-19 vaccine is one protection, she says, but it’s not 100%. Masking is another protection; it’s not 100%.

Washing your hands, staying 6 feet apart and staying home when you’re sick are other important measures as recommended by medical professionals and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The more of those that we have to layer, the more protected we are,” she said. “That goes for COVID-19 as well as influenza.”

Learn more: How Sanford Health is preparing for the flu season

It’s not always about us

“I could get the virus, have a very mild form and do just fine … but what if I bring that virus home to my grandmother or my mother over the Thanksgiving holiday? That’s something that I would feel terrible about and spreading the virus to others that are more vulnerable to this illness is what we’re trying to avoid.”

Every year, thousands of people die from influenza in the United States.

“That’s because of human behavior,” Dr. Suttle explains. “Not enough of us get vaccinated, not enough of us stay home when we’re sick and we don’t wash our hands often enough.”

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Posted In Coronavirus, Expert Q&A, Flu, Immunizations

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