Our second holiday season with COVID-19 is right around the corner. Though we all hoped the pandemic would be over by now, at least this year we have vaccines and vaccination rates continue to climb.
Despite our progress, variants, like Delta and Omicron, along with misinformation and political battles over vaccination requirements, mean we still have a long way to go before we can declare the pandemic has ended. That’s why it’s important to stay cautious during the holidays to keep from spreading COVID-19 to vulnerable and unvaccinated family and community members.
Back to basics
It should be safer to spend time with loved ones this holiday season, especially if all parties have been vaccinated. Fully vaccinated people — those who received their complete vaccine series at least two weeks ago — should be able to resume normal activities, according to the CDC.
To provide additional protection against COVID-19, booster shots are now approved for fully-vaccinated individuals 18 years and older.
That includes traveling and gathering with family members who have also been vaccinated. It is important to continue to follow the basic precautions of properly wearing a mask, washing hands, and maintaining physical distance if traveling to an area of substantial or high transmission.
The best precaution to take is to limit gatherings to only those who have been vaccinated. Also, encourage family members to get the flu vaccine. The flu can be dangerous too and can weaken the immune system and make people more susceptible to COVID-19, even when vaccinated.
This year might be the first chance you’ve had to get everyone around the dinner table to celebrate a holiday meal. It still wouldn’t be a bad idea to spread people out if possible. Especially if not everyone has been vaccinated.
Eating outside and maintaining distance between guests can reduce the risk associated with a holiday dinner. Fully vaccinated people should be the only ones allowed to sit next to each other. Seating should be assigned to help keep everyone as safe as possible.
Keep the air flowing inside if you can’t get everyone outside. Point fans toward intake vents and open screened windows or doors to improve air flow.
If You’re Hosting
You may be tempted to “do it up big” this year, but keep in mind that young children are more vulnerable to the Delta variant of COVID-19. Until they have access to a vaccine, you may be exposing them to potential infection if you invite lots of people to your home.
- Try to limit attendance to those who have been vaccinated.
- Gather outside to limit the spread of the virus.
- Don’t spend too much time in a confined space.
- Wear a mask when not eating or drinking.
- Try to maintain some distance or stay masked if not fully vaccinated.
Disposable plates and cups are still the way to go this holiday, so plates and utensils aren’t reused. Limit the number of people preparing dishes. Avoid setting up a buffet unless you know everyone has been fully vaccinated. You might have to eat in shifts so at least some people remain masked during the meal.
If You’re Traveling
Get vaccinated. Not just against COVID-19, but the flu as well. People packed onto planes to visit far-flung relatives or coming home from colleges out of state pose a tremendous health risk. It’s best to drive, if you’re traveling, though there is still the risk of encountering people in gas stations, at rest stops, and when picking up food. Still, the number of people you encounter will be much less than those in the confined space of an airport, on a plane, or in a bus or train station.
Don’t stay with family unless everyone is vaccinated. When booking a hotel or Airbnb, make sure you trust the sanitizing procedures. Don’t feel awkward calling to ask about their cleaning policies or to find out the last time someone occupied the space you reserved and how that space was cleaned.
Play It Safe
AltaMed can provide information to you about the best way to protect yourself and your family during the holidays from COVID-19. We have several resources that you can share with those you plan to gather with. Learn more by calling (888) 499-9303.
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