By Sara Bondell - November 10, 2021
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its guidance for celebrating safely this holiday season, the second affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The holiday guidance is less restrictive than last year, when vaccines were not available to the general public. The CDC says the best way to keep you and your loved ones safe is to get vaccinated if you’re eligible.
“Our cancer patients can feel more reassured of participating in holiday celebrations because the community levels are low and falling. The vaccination rate in the U.S. is 70% and rising and because mask use is required on public transportation, travel is safer,” said Dr. John Greene, chair of the Infectious Diseases Program at Moffitt Cancer Center. “Encouraging family members to be vaccinated that attend the same gatherings as our patients is another layer of security, and getting the third shot for our immunocompromised patients can further add to the safe protection from infection this holiday season.”
The CDC also recommends:
- Wear well-fitting masks over your nose and mouth if you are in public if you are not vaccinated. Those who are fully vaccinated should wear a mask in public indoor settings in communities with substantial to high transmission.
- Avoid crowded or poorly ventilated spaces.
- If you are sick or have symptoms, don’t host or attend a gathering.
- Get testing if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
If you are traveling for the holidays, the CDC recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated. If you are unvaccinated or traveling with children who cannot get vaccinated at this time:
- Wear a mask over your nose and mouth on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation.
- Avoid crowds and stay at least six feet from anyone who is not traveling with you.
- Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer.
The CDC does not recommend traveling internationally until you are fully vaccinated. Even if you are fully vaccinated, international travelers may be at an increased risk for getting and possibly spreading some COVID-19 variants. Before you go:
- Check your destination’s COVID-19 situation and travel requirements. Some countries may have their own entry and exit requirements.
- When you travel to the U.S. by air, you are required to show a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before you board your flight. The timing of the test depends on your vaccination status and age.
Other things to consider while planning your holiday celebrations:
- People who have certain medical conditions or are taking medications that weaken their immune system may not be fully protected even if they are fully vaccinated and have received an additional dose. They should continue to take precautions recommended for unvaccinated individuals, such as wearing a well-fitting mask, until advised otherwise by their health care provider.
- You may choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission if a member of your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease or is unvaccinated.
- If you are gathering with a group of people from multiple households, you may want to consider additional precautions such as taking COVID-19 tests or avoiding crowded indoor spaces.
- Do not put a mask on a child younger than 2 years old.