WASHINGTON — Another year, another holiday season overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic. And, just like last year, many Americans will travel to visit family and friends. The big difference this time around is that there are three FDA-authorized vaccines to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vaccinating yourself against the virus is the safest thing you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones this holiday season, but there are other recommendations as well.
The CDC says the riskiest thing about family holiday gatherings is how multi-generational they are. Older family members may have compromised immune systems, and younger children aren't yet approved to get any of the vaccines.
Barring vaccination, many of the CDC's recommendations are similar to last year's. First, if you feel sick or have COVID symptoms, don't go. Get tested.
If the weather is agreeable, an outdoor event is safer than an indoor event. If your event must be indoors, the CDC still recommends anyone who isn't fully vaccinated should wear a mask, especially if you're gathering in a region with a high rate of COVID transmission. People under two, however, should not wear masks.
Obviously if your celebration involves people who are immunocompromised, there are other precautions to take. People with compromised immune systems should wear masks, even if they are vaccinated and have an approved third dose, unless a doctor tells you otherwise. Others should also consider wearing masks as well.
The CDC's travel recommendations have been the same for months, and still apply. Masks are required on all public transportation, regardless of vaccination status. It's recommended people avoid crowds whenever possible, and use hand sanitizer frequently.
You should get tested for COVID before and after your trip. If you do get tested, the CDC recommends quarantining for seven days. If you don't, they recommend a 10-day quarantine.