By Kaitlin Dunn
The holiday season is finally here, and with that comes extra time to spend with family.
If you are traveling this holiday season, however, you may be worried about COVID-19. With the new Omicron variant, it is important to be diligent in order to protect yourself and others.
One of the best ways to protect yourself and others is by continuing to wear a mask indoors and outdoors if you are in a crowded area.
“If you’re not vaccinated, mask up indoors — and please, get your shots, experts agree. For the vaccinated, you should be wearing masks if you are at higher risk of severe disease because of your age or underlying health conditions — or if you spend time with people who are vulnerable. We know that vaccines aren’t always as protective among older people and the immunocompromised,” NPR writer Maria Godoy said.
Despite the fact that you may be tired of wearing masks after a year of the pandemic, they are a simple way to protect yourself and those around you, especially with new variants emerging.
“While three-ply cloth masks or surgical masks do a good job at preventing the wearer from spreading infectious particles if they fit snugly and offer the wearer some protection as well, many experts think it would be better to use an N95 or KN95 respirator in crowded indoor public spaces. This is especially key if you’re high risk,” Godoy said.
If you are not yet vaccinated, most pertinent things you can do if you plan on traveling this holiday season is get vaccinated.
Studies have shown that even though it is possible for vaccinated individuals to get COVID-19, the severity of the illness and the chances of them spreading it to others decreases due to their vaccinated status. It lowers the chances of spread even further for others who are vaccinated and are exposed to a vaccinated COVID-19 positive person.
At present, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you delay travel until you are fully vaccinated, even though it is not required to travel in the United States, with the exception of Hawaii.
If you are traveling internationally, the CDC also advises that you be fully vaccinated. There are additional requirements, such as showing a negative COVID-19 test before returning to the US.
If you are vaccinated but have yet to receive your booster shot, it is recommended that you do so if you plan to travel this holiday season.
“A booster shot is recommended due to concern that the effectiveness of the vaccine decreases over time and may not protect against a new strain, such as Delta,” Yale Medicine writer Carrie MacMillan said.
Get Tested (Before and After Travel)
If you are traveling to see family, consider getting tested the day of the event, in order to ensure that you and those around you are all negative for COVID-19. Especially if you are around those who are considered immunocompromsied, this acts as an additional layer of security in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Despite the fact that there is a new variant to heed caution of, this does not mean that you have to place a halt on your holiday plans.
By being safe and proactive, you can still enjoy and spend time with family this holiday season.
Photo by Kayla Thornton
Featured Photo Caption: Students preparing to go home for winter break or families hoping to visit each other over the winter holidays continue facing travel complications due to COVID-19.