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Lisa Black

Many families look forward to getting together with relatives and friends over the holidays and may feel safer this season as more people are vaccinated against COVID-19.

Children younger than 5 years old are not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, and though children ages 5-11 years can get vaccinated, it takes two weeks after the second dose to be fully protected.

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers a list of ways families can celebrate more safely this holiday season:

  • Celebrate with fully vaccinated family and friends. Limiting gatherings to fully vaccinated guests is the best way to protect young children who are not yet vaccinated, or individuals who have weakened immune systems. Encourage loved ones who are eligible to get fully vaccinated before gatherings. For loved ones who are not vaccinated, consider joining by video chat for traditions such as cooking a favorite dish, opening gifts, or sharing words of gratitude before the meal.
  • Do not host or participate in any in-person festivities if you or anyone in your household has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and is still at risk of spreading it to others; has had any symptoms of COVID-19 within 48 hours of the gathering; is waiting for viral test results; or has a known exposure to someone with COVID-19 within the last 14 days.
  • Urge guests to stay home if they have symptoms of COVID-19. They should get tested if they have symptoms of COVID-19 or have a close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
  • The safest way to prevent the spread of the highly contagious delta variant is for vaccinated and unvaccinated people to wear masks at all indoor gatherings with others.
  • Keep the gathering small and short. Keep your guest list as small as possible and reduce the amount of time you would usually visit.
  • Open windows for better ventilation. If weather permits, gather outdoors.
  • Wear masks while shopping indoors, especially in areas with substantial or high COVID-19 transmission rates. Avoid bringing children under 2 years old with you during holiday shopping trips, since they are too young to wear masks, or go when stores are not as busy.
  • Consider an outdoor treat exchange. Another way to share the holiday spirit is to prepare traditional recipes for family and neighbors. Enjoy the treats outdoors with some hot cocoa or cider. 
  • Remind children to wash hands often and keep hand sanitizer within reach.
  • Public health experts discourage people who are not fully vaccinatedfrom traveling for holiday gatherings. Families who must travel and have children who are not fully vaccinated should choose the safest travel options for their group. 
  • If your child is too young for the vaccine, consider traveling by car with members of your household who are vaccinated in a private vehicle, if possible. Wear a mask at gas stations and rest stops. If you must travel by air,be careful around large groups clustered security lines and concourses, wear masks in airports and on planes, and hang back until lines have thinned..
  • Call your pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns, such as if a family member is elderly or immunocompromised.

Stay safe this holiday season and your family will be even more grateful for your traditions in the years to come. 

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