For the second year in a row, COVID-19 and what to do about large gatherings will be a discussion for families as we get ready for the holiday season. The good news this year, as compared to last, is we have a vaccine that helps protect against the severe illness that can come from COVID-19.
It would be ideal if everyone coming to your holiday party was vaccinated, but that may not be the case for a variety of reasons.
Even with the recent announcement that kids ages 5 to 11 are eligible to be vaccinated, they will likely not be fully vaccinated by Thanksgiving. The good news is if kids do have their first dose prior to Thanksgiving, they will have a decent level of protection. But the youngest children are still not eligible for a vaccine, and others have either chosen not to or are unable to receive the vaccine (due to certain health conditions).
Those factors mean you will still have to decide what works best for your family this holiday season. To keep you and your family as safe as possible this year, below is my advice for holiday gatherings and travel based on our knowledge of the safety of the COVID vaccine and the rate of illness in our community currently.
What Is The Best Way To Protect My Family During Holiday Gatherings?
The best way to make sure your holiday season is safe is for those who are eligible in your family to be vaccinated. Every person who is vaccinated at a holiday party is not only protecting themselves, but also those who are not yet vaccinated.
It’s important to remember there are still many people who are unvaccinated. About 65% of people in the U.S. ages 12 and older are fully vaccinated, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But vaccination rates are lowest nationally among those ages 12-17.
Is It Safe To Travel?
If you and your loved ones are fully vaccinated, I see no issue traveling within the United States. For international travel, I recommend checking the COVID situation at your destination, as well as the travel requirements there.
The CDC recommends those who are not vaccinated delay any travel until they are fully vaccinated.
Is It OK To Get Together With People Who Are Unvaccinated?
In this case, it’s important to remember that those who are unvaccinated have a much higher risk of carrying and passing along the coronavirus to others. Also remember the virus has been shown to spread easily in groups, especially indoors. If you decide to host a gathering for the holidays this year, I recommend asking anyone who is not vaccinated to wear a mask, especially when indoors. This helps protect both them and you.
Even though we still have a lot to consider when it comes to large gatherings, this year’s holiday season should be easier to navigate than what we dealt with last year. Hopefully you and your family take the advice of medical professionals around the world and get vaccinated to ensure things are even better in 2022!
Keep in mind that keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Whether you’re hosting a get together or traveling this holiday season, make sure everyone in your family continues good handwashing practices.
For more answers to questions about COVID-19 and the vaccine visit our vaccine resource website.