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Staying Healthy During COVID-19

Current as of Sept. 20, 2021

It’s normal to cut corners when engaging in everyday activities, especially when you’re comfortable with the task. But to avoid putting yourself and your family at risk during coronavirus disease 2019, examine your habits to make sure you’re not cutting corners on your health.

Perhaps the most important factor when it comes to your habits during this time is to avoid spreading germs.

Keep calm with COVID Coach

This app can help you cope with pandemic-related stress. It’s free, secure and recommended by the Department of Defense.

For specific guidance on everything from vaccinations and personal hygiene to keeping your home clean and avoiding contact with others, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a great resource.

But maintaining good health during the COVID-19 pandemic means getting vaccinated, following guidance for covering your face in public and considering paying extra attention to your eating habits, exercise and personal schedule.

With that in mind, here are some things to consider:

Get vaccinated against COVID-19

The CDC has recommended everyone ages 12 and older get a COVID-19 vaccine. Here’s why:

  • Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself, your loved ones and your community. The vaccine works with your immune system so it will be ready to fight the virus if you’re exposed. If you do get COVID-19, the vaccine will help you from getting seriously ill.
  • COVID-19 vaccines are safeEach of the available vaccines for COVID-19 were developed using science that has been around for decades. The vaccines went through all the required stages of clinical trials and have been shown to be safe and effective. Additionally, COVID-19 vaccines have received and continue to undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history.
  • The vaccine is a key tool to help stop the pandemic. When enough people are vaccinated, it becomes harder for COVID-19 to spread from person to person. This protects the entire population, including those who cannot be vaccinated, like newborns and those who are allergic to the vaccine.
  • The vaccine is a safe way to build immunity without getting sick. People who recover after being sick with COVID-19 have natural immunity to the disease. However, it’s not clear how long that protection lasts. The CDC recommends the vaccine even for those who have been sick with COVID-19.
  • You can resume many activities once fully vaccinated. It takes your body two weeks after being vaccinated to develop the antibodies that fight COVID-19. Once you are fully vaccinated, you can go out in public without a mask or having to social distance except where required by law or regulations.

Visit the TRICARE website to schedule a vaccination appointment or use the Defense Health Agency’s Appointing Portal to book your appointment at a DOD COVID-19 vaccination site.

Wear cloth face coverings

The Department of Defense requires personnel in areas of high community transmission to wear face coverings and to social distance while on the installation, even if vaccinated. Those who are not vaccinated must wear masks and social distance on the installation and during official duties outside the home, regardless of the level of community transmission. The CDC provides data on levels of community transmission. It also offers guidance and definitions of low, moderate, substantial and high spread.

All DOD personnel should continue to comply with CDC guidance regarding areas where masks should be worn, including within airports. The latest CDC guidance to maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others is to get vaccinated as soon as you can and wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission.

These practices can slow the spread of the virus and help people who may unknowingly have it from transmitting it to others. The CDC recommends masks for unvaccinated adults and children ages 2 and up that:

  • Are non-medical and disposable
  • Are made with breathable or tightly-woven fabric
  • Have two or three layers
  • Include a filter pocket

The DOD does not authorize the use of novelty masks, masks with ventilation valves or face shields.

Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth when removing your face covering. Wash your hands as soon as you finish.

Be good to your body

Keep yourself healthy with the following activities:

  • Get moving. Reach out to a Military OneSource health and wellness coach to develop an exercise plan just for you with the equipment you have at home. You can make an appointment for a phone, online or video session by calling Military OneSource at 800-342-9647. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options.
  • Keep your bedtime the same. It’s tempting to binge watch your favorite shows late into the night if you are not currently reporting to work or if you are working from home, but resist that urge. Sleep helps restore and relax your mind and body. A good sleep routine keeps you healthy.
  • Eat regular, nutritious meals with your family. Teach your children how to stay healthy by choosing healthy meals. Show them how to plan a meal, cook it, set the table and clean up after. Family meals are a great time to bond and get to know each other better, not to mention staying healthy.
  • Order medications online. Order your medications online to avoid contact with people who may have the virus. Here’s how to get home delivery for medications under TRICARE.

Be kind to your mind

Mental health is just as important as physical health. Here are a few ways to stay informed with updates on safety while keeping current events in perspective.

  • Engage your mind in your favorite activities. Schedule time for yourself to participate in the activities you enjoy the most. Whatever your thing is — reading a book, painting, playing an instrument or streaming your favorite music, dancing, writing, singing, etc. — do it, enjoy it and you’ll feel better for it.
  • Avoid information overload. Watching or reading too much negative news can increase anxiety. Instead, limit the time you take in negative news and use the extra time to fill yourself with something positive like writing down all you are grateful for or using these other tips for emotional wellness.
  • Practice self-care. Plug into tools to help you de-stress and take care of yourself. The Defense Health Agency recommends several: Chill Drills is a collection of free simple audio exercises to help you de-stress while Breathe2Relax trains you on deep-breathing techniques. They are among several you’ll find on the Military OneSource Recommended Wellness Apps page. The Military Meditation Coach podcast provides relaxation exercises and tips for well-being.
  • Help others. Helping others will bring you happiness. Consider surprising a neighbor by doing their yard work or leaving groceries on their porch (while keeping your social distance).
  • Ask for help if you or your family need it.  Military OneSource confidential, non-medical counselors are here for you. Check out Address That Stress to learn how non-medical counseling works and all the ways it can help you. If you or a family member are having suicidal thoughts, call the Military Crisis line at 800-273-8255, press 1; text to 838255; or start a confidential chat. If you find yourself in a dangerous, abusive situation, contact command, the Family Advocacy Program or law enforcement. If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 911. Except in select circumstances, you have the option of making either a restricted or unrestricted report of domestic abuse. Both options allow access to victim advocacy services, which include personal help and support.
  • Seek reliable information. Look for sites that provide factual and frequently-updated information such as the CDC.

Stay up to date on all the latest information on COVID-19. For Department of Defense updates for the military community regarding the virus that causes COVID-19, view the following sites:

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