Meritus Health encourages a healthy serving of precaution ahead of holidays, viral illness season

HAGERSTOWN, Md. – As many families prepare to gather to celebrate Thanksgiving, officials at Meritus Health are offering a recipe for a healthy holiday, including getting updated COVID boosters, flu vaccines, and of course awareness of symptoms.

“This week we are all reminded of the importance of sharing our gratitude,” explained president and CEO, Maulik Joshi, Dr.P.H. “We are thrilled that for many, this holiday season is an opportunity to resume favorite traditions and gather more safely. We want to make sure our neighbors are aware of the current illnesses in the community so they can enjoy a healthy holiday season.”

According to Joshi, flu cases are on the rise in Washington County. Just last week, Meritus reported a positivity rate of over 14% for flu specimens collected by the health system.

“If you’ve not gotten a flu shot yet, we highly encourage it for all eligible patients. We also are proud to continue our community COVID booster clinics – getting an appointment is easy, and we know this is a great shot at a healthy season ahead,” Joshi said.

In addition to flu and COVID, Joshi said RSV – a respiratory virus – has been infecting children at high rates this fall.

Young children, under the age of two, are particularly vulnerable.

“During the month of October, our teams cared for three times the amount of children than October 2021, and the time these children are in the hospital has doubled, meaning these children are experiencing more serious symptoms,” he said.

“No parent who wants their child to endure a hospital stay for illness, but especially not over the holidays. We continue to encourage awareness of symptoms, and making sure that children who have a fever or cough stay home, and that you contact your trusted healthcare provider if symptoms get worse,” Joshi said.

Joshi reminds community members that more information about flu and COVID vaccines can be found at