The 2021 Holiday Season is upon us, which means families are getting ready to reunite, eat delicious food, and create new precious memories with one another. With more than 60% of the U.S. population vaccinated and more of the of U.S. opening up, people are poised to return to pre-COVID traditions. However, as the weather gets colder and people congregate indoors, the virus still has a chance to spread.
That’s why proper measures should still be taken to ensure we don’t see another spike in infections during this Holiday Season. Here are four preventive measures your family can take to make sure that everyone has a safe and happy holiday season.
- Encourage every eligible attendee to get vaccinated.
The sooner a family member gets vaccinated, the quicker each individual can build immunity and reduce the chance of getting infected. As of today, any individual 12 years of age and older is eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccination, and now Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine has been authorized for children ages 5–11. Even if a family member is only able to get one dose, Pfizer and Moderna will still provide increased immunity to COVID-19 infection (although studies have shown this protection significantly reduces for the delta variant). A single dose of The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is also very effective and has shown to significantly reduce chances of hospitalization.
The FDA just authorized Pfizer boosters for 16- and 17-year-olds, and in recent months, the CDC expanded eligibility for COVID-19 booster shots to include those who are 65 years or older, have underlying medical conditions, who work in high-risk settings, and/or live in long-term care settings. If you or any family member are now eligible for a booster dose, it’s highly recommended you do so as soon as possible.
If a Covid Clinic site near you does not offer vaccination services, you can visit vaccines.gov, text your zip code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find a location nearest you.
- Have everyone confirm a negative test result
The simplest way to feel at ease during the holidays is to have the peace of mind that everyone attending has shown to be COVID-free. The only way to do that is by getting tested, whether or not you are showing symptoms. CDC guidelines have updated to recommend that even fully-vaccinated people should get tested 5–7 days after close contact with a person who has suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection. Everyone should factor in their previous settings and traveling logistics when choosing the most appropriate test. For a breakdown on the differences between each test, visit our homepage.
To find a test near you, check our directory to see if any of our clinics are near to you and we’ll provide you with testing that is best tailored to your situation with speedy results. For those who are not near enough to a Covid Clinic location, you can find a local health center near you by visiting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website or by going to your local health department directory.
- Go Outside, Mask indoors & Ventilate
This is 3-for-1, but it all points to the same idea: reducing the transmission of aerosols. Most experts have pointed to the fact that the virus is primarily spread through the air. That’s why the risk of getting infected is greatly increased when people gather indoors, as this is how potential virus particles accumulate over time.
The solution? Many randomized controlled trials have found that proper masking can reduce this transmission to significant degree (although the quality of mask matters, too). Masks are a simple, low-cost strategy to lessen the chances of virus carriers infecting others. Another idea is to encourage the family gathering to take place outside for as long as weather permits. Of course, given the winter months, this is not always feasible, but you can increase the flow of air in the home by opening a few windows (recommended by the EPA) and utilizing any fans you have to create cross-breeze that can help clear the air of any infectious particles.
- If you are not feeling well, isolate
With the ongoing variants continuing to circulate and reports of breakthrough cases, there’s no certainty that a vaccinated individual is completely immune to infection. Therefore, if you start feeling symptoms of any kind and can’t confirm a negative test result in due time, the best decision you can make is to play it safe and sit this one out. Of course, it’s hard to make such a difficult decision when we want to be with our loved ones, but it’s important to remember that the courtesy and attentiveness to avoid spreading a contagious illness is the greatest gesture of care you can show your family.
However, it is our deepest wish everyone stays safe, healthy and COVID- free. We hope you all have a happy holiday season!