10 Tips to Stay Safe During the Holidays From Physicians from The Old North State Medical Society
GREENSBORO, N.C., Dec. 18, 2021 -- Everyone is anxiously awaiting life to bounce back after the pandemic ends and to "get back to normal;" however, the persistence of COVID-19 and the Delta and Omicron variants is slowing our return to "business as usual." During this holiday season, many people are making plans to travel and gather with family and friends, which can potentially create spreader events, allowing the virus to continue negatively impacting our community.
Fortunately, there are still a number of things we can do to help decrease the spread of COVID-19 and protect our loved ones during get-togethers. Here are 10 tips recommended by a number of medical organizations and the physicians of The Old North State Medical Society to stay safe during the holidays and into the New Year.
Get vaccinated. To protect yourself and others, get vaccinated; or get the booster shot to decrease the likelihood of severe illness or death from COVID-19 and the variants of the virus. Visit www.onsms.org/get-vaxxed to find the location of vaccine clinics near you.
Vaccinate kids. Make sure children between the ages of 5 to 11 years old get vaccinated. On Oct. 29, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) authorized the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 years old, providing an additional layer of protection to youth, families, and communities against the virus.
Wear a mask. If hosting or attending a holiday gathering, guests who are not fully vaccinated should wear a face covering over the nose and mouth and maintain physical distance from others, especially when indoors. Attendees who are fully vaccinated should also wear a mask inside – especially if the vaccination status of all guests isn't known.
Wash your hands. Washing your hands frequently is still one of the most reliable ways to help reduce the transmission and spread of disease. Because of the frequency in which we touch our faces, it's important to keep hands clean by washing them often with warm, soapy water. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
Maintain physical distance. Since it's not always possible to know if everyone at an event is vaccinated, maintaining physical distance is another way to help protect each other.
Remember to get your annual flu shot. As we approach flu season, it's important to know that COVID-19 vaccines can be given at the same time as the flu vaccine, adding an additional layer of protection from illness.
Verify information sources. There is a lot of misinformation, disinformation, rumors, and speculation about COVID-19 and the vaccines. Be sure to rely on trusted medical sources and reliable agencies for accurate content to make informed decisions.
Be careful and thoughtful. If you are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19, get tested and stay home; do not host or attend a gathering. Follow prescribed medical guidelines to recover and to reduce the likelihood of making others sick.
Host gatherings outdoors. If weather permits and it's practical to do so, consider an outdoor space that allows social distancing and fresh air. If gathering indoors, use a space that is large enough to allow for physical distancing and consider limiting the number of attendees. Encourage guests to get vaccinated in advance, wear masks, and maintain physical distance inside – and increase circulation of outdoor air by opening windows and doors, if possible.
Be patient. It can be frustrating to limit activities and gatherings because of the pandemic, but it's important to remember that while everyone is experiencing the same circumstances, everyone doesn't think or respond the same way. Exercise a little more patience with others to keep conversations and special occasions enjoyable for all.
For safer holiday celebrations and gatherings while we are still in the pandemic, consider some of the following options:
- Enjoying meals with individuals in your household only.
- Practicing religious holiday customs at home.
- Watching and participating with religious and cultural performances virtually or outdoors.
- Attending religious ceremonies or holiday events virtually or outdoors.
Stay safe during the holidays!
By Dr. Tracei Ball, The Old North State Medical Society
About The Old North State Medical Society:
Trusted since 1887, The Old North State Medical Society is one of the oldest medical societies in the nation established for African American physicians. The organization was created to further the interests of African American physicians and continues to support the interests of minority physicians. ONSMS focuses on educating and advocating for the most vulnerable patients and people residing in communities that consistently produce poorer health outcomes – and seeks to protect the quality of patient care in all communities of North Carolina. For more information, visit www.onsms.org.
SOURCE The Old North State Medical Society