Another COVID Thanksgiving

How to Stay Safe and Healthy This Holiday Season

    Last year, COVID-19 cases spiked around the Thanksgiving holiday, with the spike beginning just before the holiday and increasing slightly in the weeks after travelers returned home. Health experts cited air travel as the cause of the spike, with passengers going through US airports in the highest numbers since the beginning of the pandemic, according to BBC News. 


   However, this time last year, the different COVID-19 vaccines were still undergoing trials and wouldn’t be available to the public until December 14. This year, the vaccine has been approved for everyone over the age of five, and some are eligible for a booster shot. Vaccination, masking, and social distancing are the best ways to protect yourself and your loved ones this holiday season. 


   As of the time this article is being written, nearly 200 million Americans have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, which is about 60% of the population, according to the Center for Disease Control. The CDC has also performed studies that show that the COVID-19 vaccine, specifically the two-dose mRNA vaccines offered by Pfizer and Moderna, is 90% effective against severe illness caused by COVID-19. The CDC also clarifies that someone isn’t considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after they receive the second dose of an mRNA vaccine. 


   A booster shot is also available for select, fully vaccinated people. Booster shots are encouraged for those over the age of 65, those between the ages of 50-64 who have underlying health conditions, and those between 18-49 who have underlying health conditions or work in high-risk environments. 


   Anyone who falls under these categories may receive a booster shot six months after they received the second dose of the mRNA vaccine series. A booster shot is available for those who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine who are over the age of 18. These people are encouraged to get a booster two months after their initial dose. 


   If you are not vaccinated yet and would like to receive the vaccine, most versions of it are available at no cost at most retail pharmacies, such as Walgreens and CVS. There is also a vaccination clinic at the Columbus Public Library on Macon Road that is available to all who are eligible for vaccination. 


   The CDC also continues to recommend the use of masks and facial coverings in certain settings. Masks are recommended for everyone over the age of two, especially if they are not vaccinated or have only received one dose of an mRNA vaccination series. 


   Your mask should be made of at least two layers of breathable fabric, fit snugly against the sides of your face without significant gaps, and contain a moldable nose wire to keep potentially contaminated air from leaking through the top of your mask. Your mask should always cover both your nose and your mouth. Disposable, medical-style masks are acceptable as well as long as they’re not worn more than once. The CDC asks that those not working in the medical field avoid buying N-95 or surgical-style masks so that they can be set aside for use in hospitals and other private practice offices.


   The CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people wear masks in indoor settings with a high risk for COVID-19 transmission, or if the fully vaccinated person has underlying health conditions or is immunocompromised in any way. The CDC, in general, only recommends a mask be worn outdoors if the outdoor area is crowded. 


   The CDC also continues to recommend social distancing in public, indoor spaces. A distance of at least six feet is recommended, even if you’re wearing a mask. The combination of a face covering and distancing greatly reduces the spread of COVID-19. Masks and face coverings are especially recommended if you find yourself in a crowded indoor space and appropriate social distancing is not possible.


   The CDC’s recommendations for travel and family gatherings for this coming holiday season haven’t changed much from last year. The CDC highly encourages vaccination, especially if you’ll be with family members who have not yet or are unable to get vaccinated. They continue to recommend that these gatherings be held outdoors if possible and that if a gathering is held indoors that the space is well-ventilated. 


   The CDC recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated and that you get tested before and after your trip if you are unvaccinated and must travel. They also recommend that you check COVID-19 numbers and local guidelines for wherever you may be traveling so you can be aware of the situation there. You are required to wear a mask in US airports and on airplanes according to federal domestic travel guidelines. 


   For further details on how to travel safely this holiday season, or if you have questions about any of the guidelines the CDC recommends, please visit their website at