Navigating the Holidays Safely During COVID-19
As the holiday season quickly approaches, many of us are looking forward to finally being able to gather with our nearest and dearest. While many adults are fully vaccinated, be sure to keep in mind that not all children are eligible for the COVID vaccination or are still in the process of being vaccinated. Children ages 5-11 have recently been approved for the COVID vaccine and while they are in the process of being vaccinated you must keep in mind that they are not fully protected until after two weeks from their second dose. Meanwhile, children under the age of 5 have not yet been approved for the vaccination meaning they are at a higher risk of infection compared to the general population who may be fully vaccinated. Below find five tips to help keep you and your family safe and healthy this holiday season.
Tip 1: Celebrate with fully vaccinated family and friends.
While gathering with all of your family and friends whom you haven’t seen in the last few years may be tempting, try to limit gatherings to fully vaccinated guests in order to protect young children as well as those with weakened immune systems. Encourage your loved ones to get fully vaccinated prior to gathering if they have not yet done so. For loved ones who are not eligible for the vaccine or are not yet vaccinated, you may consider joining the festivities via video chat.
Tip 2: Urge guests to stay home if they have symptoms of COVID-19.
Individuals who have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19 or has symptoms of COVID-19 should be tested 72 hours prior to the gathering. In reality, it may not be a bad idea to have all your guests test for COVID-19 prior to gathering. Again, remember this does not take the place of vaccination but can be considered an extra precaution.
Tip 3: Open windows for better ventilation.
Although the temperature will be cold in most places you should try to keep several windows open for ventilation purposes. However, depending on where you live and if weather conditions permit, it would be best to gather outdoors as transmission risk is much lower. This would be a great way to be creative- sitting around a bonfire, sharing stories, singing carols, and sipping hot chocolate.
Tip 4: If your child is too young for the vaccine, consider traveling by car with members of your household who are vaccinated in a private vehicle, if possible.
The best mode of transportation for those who are not able to be vaccinated is via car with individuals who are vaccinated. This may even be easier for you if you have young children who need to stop frequently! Keep in mind that you should be wearing your mask at gas stations and rest stops along your road trip.
If air travel is your only option, try to stay away from larger groups in airports. Where this is unavoidable, such as security lines, concourses, or on the plane, be sure you and your family wear masks. If your child is 2 years of age or older, he or she should be wearing a mask as well. Remember, universal droplet precautions (ie everyone wearing masks) can definitely help limit spread and transmission.
Tip 5: Keep the gathering small.
I know we are all excited to be spending quality time with our loved ones this holiday season, but I’m encouraging patients to try to keep guest lists as small as possible or to those who are vaccinated in order to protect our young children who are not vaccine eligible.