“I can’t believe it’s been a year since I last talked about it. What’s more, I’m really amazed at how much better shape we’re in right now, ”Wu said during an Emory University School-sponsored media briefing on Thursday Medicine in Atlanta. “We learned so much about COVID-19 and how it spreads over the past year.”
“I see a visible path to a safe vacation [season], one that we can enjoy while minimizing the risks of COVID-19 to ourselves and our families, “said Wu, director of the Emory TravelWell Center.
Free the ghosts and goblins
In terms of good news for Halloween 2021, contaminated surfaces are now less of a concern for coronavirus transmission than they were at the start of the pandemic.
The same hand hygiene applies to people who hand out treats of trick or treating.
Another positive factor is that trick-or-treating is pretty much an outdoor event. And outdoor events that aren’t crowded or crowded tend to be safer than other types of gatherings, Wu said.
“Going door-to-door for a trick or treating is certainly a safe activity,” he said.
In announcements earlier this month, both Anthony Fauci, MD and Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH agreed. Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, explained that trick-or-treating is safe this Halloween.
The CDC recently launched theirs Guidelines for Safer Vacation During COVID-19 on October 15 and October 25, Walensky encouraged children to put on their costumes, stay outside, and enjoy trick or treating this year.
Also consider protective measures for those handing out candy. For example, Wu said, “You can reassure your trick-or-treaters by wearing masks that keep them safe.”
Some potentially riskier traditions will have to wait. “Hygiene is definitely important. I’m not sure how many people are still jumping for apples, of course, but I think I wouldn’t have been involved too quickly before the pandemic, either.”
Lay clothing and protection on top of each other
Keep the basics in mind to limit exposure to the coronavirus and the more protection the better.
“Remember, you can improve your protection with any of the basic preventive measures we’re all familiar with, like masking in high risk situations and avoiding crowded indoor areas,” said Wu.
“Just as you put our clothes on top of each other in cold weather, you can layer your protection against COVID on top of each other.”
Also, because breakthrough infections are possible with those vaccinated, consider masking if a friend or family member is immunocompromised or at higher risk, Wu said. As an added precaution, everyone who gets together can agree to get tested beforehand.
“I really think it’s important to see your family, especially the frail ones who couldn’t get out,” added Wu. “So I would just encourage people to enjoy themselves, but use as many shifts as possible.”
If you are planning to travel on vacation, Wu recommended that you get vaccinated if you are eligible. Also, do some research ahead of time about COVID-19 requirements at home and where you are going.
Tests are also required for American travelers who are returning to the United States vaccinated or not.
In addition, starting November 8, the US government plans to allow international visitors to enter the country if they are vaccinated.
“This is an exciting time because so many of us have family and friends who have not been able to visit,” said Wu. “Let us be good hosts and greet our visitors by getting vaccinated.”
Grateful for vaccines
Speaking of good hosts, if you are planning a Christmas party or meeting, “plan your events so that they are safe and people can then comfortably enjoy themselves,” said Wu.
If you’re throwing a party, keep your numbers lower or keep them outside for example.
Again, it’s best to get vaccinated if you are planning a family reunion for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, or any other holiday in the coming months.
“Remember, the more households there are, the greater the chance someone will get sick,” said Wu.
Reduce that risk by getting vaccinated and encouraging friends and family to do the same, he added.
Reasons for optimism
When asked if a possible FDA approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 5-11 could make a difference this Christmas season, Wu replied, “Well, the more people vaccinated, the safer it becomes be it. And we certainly know that children can get COVID-19 and spread it. ”
“I encourage people to follow the news and speak to their doctors when these vaccines are approved to see if it makes sense to vaccinate your family,” he said.
Overall, while there are reasons to celebrate this holiday season, the pandemic is not over yet. “Remember, we haven’t gotten to a point where we can do everything the way we did before the pandemic. So let’s not make the mistake of letting go of our vigilance too soon, ”said Wu.
“On the flip side, we really have tools to control the pandemic and do so much safely that we missed out on last year.”
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