Christmas is just two days away as the omicron variant continues to spread throughout the community.
News Channel 3’s Madison Weil spoke with local health experts to clarify what the official guidance is when it comes to holiday gatherings.
“To start off we recommend everyone get vaccinated…get your boosters if you’re eligible,” said Dr. Jennifer Chevinsky, MPH, Deputy Public Health Officer, RivCo.
Health experts are clear: when it comes to being protected from COVID-19, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are still your best bet.
While breakthrough cases are happening, they say vaccines still prevent against severe disease and death. But if you just got your vaccine recently, other precautions should still be taken.
“To achieve immunity with vaccine status you need a full 14 days after your second dose of your vaccine series,” said Steve Hermann, Registered Nurse & Infection Preventionist, DRMC.
They say if you’re unvaccinated, it’s best to skip any crowded holiday scenario. Regardless of vaccine status, if you’ll be around grandparents, young children or immunocompromised individuals there are simple steps you can take to add extra protection.
“If you have multi-layer cloth masks they’re still good but we could do better,” said Dr. Chevinsky.
While cloth masks provide some protection, she says layering them with a surgical mask is preferred. The best protection comes from KN95 or N95 masks.
Also consider moving gatherings outdoors instead: “I know that might be a little challenging with the weather…but what you can do is open up your doors and windows and allow cross-ventilation to occur,” added Hermann.
Limiting the number of people and length of your gathering is also encouraged.
At-home testing is also a resource to consider, but health experts say to be aware they’re not as accurate as a PCR test.
“These tests aren’t as good at picking up smaller amounts of the virus that might be in the body when someone is initially exposed or when they’re asymptomatic,” said Dr. Chevinsky.
To sum up the best guidance this holiday weekend:
“Stay home if you’re sick, wear a mask, wash your hands, socially distance, just to everything you can to protect yourself and your loved ones…and remember to have a happy holiday season,” said Hermann.
Important Ways to Slow the Spread of COVID-19
- Get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can. Find a vaccine.
- Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth to help protect yourself and others.
- Stay 6 feet apart from others who don’t live with you.
- Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces.
- Test to prevent spread to others.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.