We are all eager to resume family gatherings — even more so now that the holidays are approaching.
You and your family are more protected against COVID-19 if you are vaccinated. This means that you have more freedom in terms of what you can do again, including spending time with your extended family.
However, infection outbreaks are possible. As a result, you should continue to exercise caution when gathering in large groups, in enclosed public spaces, and with unvaccinated family members and friends — even more so if anyone in your family is at high risk. Additionally, if you are eligible, you may consider getting a booster shot prior to gathering with your family.
If you’re planning a holiday gathering with your family, here’s what you need to know about keeping the event safe.
1. Vaccinate yourself prior to gathering with your family
The best way to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19, health experts agree, is to get vaccinated. Individuals who are not vaccinated are more likely to become ill and thus spread the virus to others.
If you are not yet vaccinated, get vaccinated as soon as possible and approach family gatherings with extreme caution until you are fully vaccinated. Several private sector organizations and the government are continuing mass vaccination in every neighborhood; you simply need to schedule your own appointment or arrive early in line at vaccination sites.
Whether you’re skeptical of COVID-19 vaccines or believe you can’t get COVID-19 twice, make sure you’re reading reputable information about the virus and vaccines and communicating with your doctor if you have any unanswered questions.
2. Have a basic understanding of how to travel safely
If gathering with family requires travel, be sure to take precautions to ensure your safety while traveling during COVID-19.
While on public transportation, including planes, buses, and trains, wearing a mask is always required. However, it is also prudent to wear a mask in any public setting, particularly if community transmission is prevalent in the area.
Additionally, you should postpone visiting your extended family if you are or if one of your invitees are:
1. Experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19
2. Has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are isolating
3. Been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 recently
Suggested Read: Required Vaccine Brands for Travel Outside the Philippines
3. Protect children who are not yet eligible for vaccination or who are not fully vaccinated
Even if you are vaccinated, your young children may not be. While children are less likely to become seriously ill as a result of COVID-19, this does not mean they are immune.
To begin, if your child is 12 years old or older, he or she is now eligible to receive vaccinations. Simply be cautious with your child until he or she is fully vaccinated — approximately two weeks after receiving the Pfizer vaccine for the second time.
While spending time with family and upholding holiday traditions is critical for you and your children, families with children under the age of five may face some more difficult decisions. One of the most effective ways to protect your family while gathering is to get yourself and any other eligible individuals in close proximity to your children vaccinated.
Additionally, it is critical to ensure that you are taking additional precautions, such as wearing a mask indoors, gathering outdoors if possible, and maintaining a safe distance.
If travel is necessary to reunite with your family, consider driving or, if flying, choosing flights with the fewest layovers.
4. Take precautions to protect immune-compromised family members who have been vaccinated
It is still unknown how protected immunocompromised individuals, such as transplant recipients or those taking immunosuppressive medications, are — even if they have received all three vaccines.
If you are attending a family gathering with a loved one who is vaccinated but has a weakened immune system, take extra precautions, such as wearing a mask indoors, gathering outdoors if possible, and keeping your distance.
If you are immunocompromised and have not yet received your third shot, make an appointment right away. Given that you may not have fully responded to your first two doses, experts believe an additional dose will help further protect you from COVID-19 infection. Additionally, your doctor can assist you in determining which situations are still dangerous for you and which are not.
5. There may be occasions when you should gather outdoors, wear a mask, and maintain a social distance
Indoor family gatherings remain dangerous for those who are not vaccinated. Families with unvaccinated members should consider hosting an outdoor gathering. Additionally, this is the safer option for families with children who are not yet eligible for vaccination or who are not fully vaccinated. Additionally, keep in mind that if you have an unvaccinated family member, digital tools can assist you in safely gathering with them virtually.
For fully vaccinated families, a small indoor gathering at home is relatively risk-free — though you may want to wear masks or move outside if you’re gathering with loved ones who have weakened immune systems. If you’re gathering with vaccinated family members in an enclosed public space, you should still wear a mask.
Generally, ensure that everyone attending the gathering is at ease with the arrangement.
First Step: Get Vaccinated to Lessen the Risks before Family Gatherings
Everyone might be looking forward to spending the Christmas or holiday family gatherings with their loved ones this December but let’s remember to take our part in creating a healthy and safer community for everyone especially for yourselves and your loved ones.
Vaccination protects not only you from the virus’s severity, but also your family and community. Indeed, no one is truly secure until everyone is secure. Thus, each member of the community is encouraged to receive a COVID-19 vaccine boost. Once we have established successful herd immunity, we will be able to resume our normal lives.
As a result, let us all strive for a life free of masks and shields. Vaccinate yourself and protect yourself, your family, and your community immediately.