As we enter our second holiday season with the threat of an active pandemic hanging over our heads, there’s certainly cause for cheer. Although 2021 saw more COVID-19 deaths than the previous year, the wide availability of free and highly-effective vaccines has helped save countless lives. Unfortunately, with new variants emerging and infection rates on the rise in certain parts of the country, we can’t afford to relax our guard quite yet. In the interest of keeping you and your loved ones safe from COVID exposure this holiday season, but the following pointers are to good use.
Get Vaccinated and Stay Current with Boosters
Getting vaccinated is the most effective way to keep yourself and your loved ones safe from COVID-19. As such, everyone in your household aged five and up should get vaccinated – with the rare exception of people with medical conditions that prohibit them from doing so. Unlike virtually everything else healthcare-related in the U.S., COVID-19 vaccines are available free of charge, so cost needn’t be a concern. Additionally, since vaccines are available at an extensive range of pharmacies, clinics, and other healthcare facilities, accessibility shouldn’t be a problem, either. Although vaccination shouldn’t be regarded as an impenetrable force-field against infection, it will dramatically reduce the risk of serious and fatal cases of the novel coronavirus.
In addition to getting vaccinated, it’s imperative that you stay current with vaccine boosters. Since COVID-19 will continue to be a threat for as long as a large subset of the populace remains unvaccinated, there’s a good chance that COVID boosters will be part of our lives for the foreseeable future. Presently, all adults are eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster shot in the U.S. – provided at least six months have passed since your last dose of vaccine. For people who received the Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine, at least two months will need to have passed since your last dose. Again, since further boosters are likely to be necessary for the future, you’d do well to keep up with the news to ensure that you know when you’re eligible to receive them.
Avoid Interacting with Proudly Unvaccinated or Actively Infected Individuals
If any of your relatives or acquaintances are actively infected with COVID-19, you’d do well to avoid direct interactions with them. Even if the individual in question has a mild or asymptomatic case of the novel coronavirus, this doesn’t mean that the people they infect will be as lucky. This may mean having to disinvite someone to a holiday gathering or cancel other plans with them, but if the infected individual would hold valuing your family’s safety against you, that says a lot more about them than you.
Of course, this isn’t to say that individuals with confirmed COVID-19 infections are the only people to watch out for. People who are proudly unvaccinated also pose a considerable risk to your family’s safety and public health as a whole. In many cases, people who refuse to get vaccinated also refuse to take any other common-sense precautions against the novel coronavirus. This often results in them walking around with active infections without even realizing it. So, as a general rule of thumb, full vaccination and a lack of infection should be a prerequisite for anyone allowed into your home or around your loved ones.
Additionally, if anyone in your household begins exhibiting signs of COVID-19 infection or discovers they’ve been exposed to the virus, contact the appropriate medical professionals to arrange a test. Maryland residents on the hunt for COVID-19 information or testing advice would do well to conduct a search for “general family medical practice Norwood.”
Avoid Overly-Congested Holiday Gatherings
One of the biggest things the pandemic took from us was the ability to safely congregate with large numbers of friends and family members. However, since COVID-19 is able to spread like wildfire at congested gatherings, it’s a good idea to avoid them this holiday season. There’s generally no way to confirm whether everyone in attendance is fully vaccinated or uninfected, which makes congested gatherings a significant risk at the present time.
Continue Masking Up in Public
If there’s one thing that’s become abundantly clear throughout the course of this pandemic, it’s that certain people resent being told what to do under any circumstances. This can be seen in their vehement refusal to stay home whenever possible, practice social distancing and wear masks. Masks have proven to be a needlessly contentious topic over the last 21 months, due largely in part to dangerous misinformation propagated by agenda-driven media outlets and public figures acting in bad faith.
Still, the simple act of wearing a mask can help protect you – and by extension, your loved ones – from COVID-19 infection. Even if you’re fully vaccinated – and boosted – you should continue masking up in public places. For one thing, breakthrough infections have been shown to be possible. (Although this is common with virtually every vaccine and should not be taken as a sign of ineffectiveness.) Secondly, in the event that you’re unknowingly infected with a mild or asymptomatic case of COVID-19, wearing a mask can help prevent you from spreading virus particles and possibly even save the lives of unvaccinated individuals.
While the desire to stop masking up is perfectly understandable, it’s still too early to safely do so – especially with Omicron and other new variants popping up. Although wearing a mask may be a minor annoyance, it’s a relatively small ask, all things considered. So, even if mask mandates and masking policies have gone away in your neck of the woods, you and your family would be wise to continue masking up in public – regardless of how many people you see refusing to take the same precaution.
Although things aren’t looking quite as dire as they were at this time last year, it’s important to remember that the novel coronavirus and its growing number of variants still represent a very real threat. So, even with vaccines readily available, we should all stay alert and avoid regarding COVID-19 as a problem that has passed. You can help ensure that you and your loved ones stay safe this holiday season by heeding the precautions discussed above.
Having completed my Bachelor’s degree in medicine and currently pursuing a house job at a well-reputed hospital in California, I decided to utilize my spare time in sharing knowledge with others through my blog. Apart from my time spent in the medical field, I love to read fiction novels and go on long drives.