MCPS Medical Officer Sends Community Message Ahead of Winter Break

Courtesy of MCPS

MCPS Medical Officer Dr. Patricia Kapunan has sent message to the community ahead of the school system’s winter break. The full message can be seen below:

“Dear MCPS Community,

As we get ready for winter break, remember that cold and flu season is in full swing! We have seen increasing staff and student absences in our schools from multiple illnesses, including COVID-19, influenza, strep throat, hand, foot and mouth disease, and other common infections. Local hospitals have also been busy caring for patients with respiratory illnesses, especially those more susceptible to severe disease. This includes young infants and children, older adults and individuals with certain medical conditions.


It is very important to practice healthy habits to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses and other infections, especially for the protection of our most vulnerable community members. Frequent hand-washing, covering coughs and sneezes, cleaning shared and high-contact surfaces, and staying home when sick help prevent transmission. Wearing a mask as an extra layer of protection can help reduce the spread of respiratory viruses, and is a good idea when you have symptoms and may be around anyone more susceptible to infection. Following the break, staff and students are asked to mask if they have recently had COVID-19, according to CDC guidelines. For more information, visit our COVID-19 information page.

Vaccination is a critical prevention strategy; it is not too late to receive a flu or COVID-19 vaccine. Certain people may be eligible for Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) immunization. You can find more information about seasonal vaccines on our website.


People at high risk should strongly consider seeking health care promptly if they have respiratory symptoms. Treatments for flu and COVID-19 infection are most helpful when given early. The Home Test to Treat program offers free telehealth appointments and can prescribe treatment for adults positive for flu or COVID-19.

The holidays can bring stress and mixed feelings for many, but they are also the perfect opportunity to recharge and connect with one another in positive ways.

Spend time with family and friends to think about how to be more caring and careful about everyday health. Quality sleep, good nutrition and being active are all foundational to being and feeling well. Have a happy and healthy winter break.

Patricia Kapunan, M.D., MPH
MCPS Medical Officer”

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