November 8, 2021

Celebrate safely this holiday season

Spread joy and cheer while keeping yourself and others healthy.

The holidays traditionally involve sharing meals, hosting gatherings, and traveling to visit family and friends. However, as the coronavirus continues to spread, it’s important to understand how you can protect yourself and others while celebrating the season.

Physicians and clinicians at Kaiser Permanente support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance for safer ways to celebrate the holidays and traveling safely.

“The most important thing adults, and now children over 5 years of age, can do to protect themselves against infection is to get vaccinated,” said Craig Robbins, MD, physician co-lead for Kaiser Permanente’s national COVID-19 vaccination program and medical director for the Kaiser Permanente Care Management Institute’s Center for Clinical Information Services and Education. “And as booster shots are more widely recommended, getting vaccinated is an important consideration as people gather with others during the holiday season, or if they plan on spending time with others whose vaccination status they don’t know.”

Not gathering with family and friends this holiday season continues to be the safest choice, but it’s also a tough choice, and it’s crucial to recognize the emotional and psychological impact of that decision. If you’re choosing to stay home this year and not travel to visit family and friends, it’s better to break the news early. Have a conversation with your family and loved ones to help reduce your anxiety and manage others’ expectations. Then, invite your family and friends to brainstorm some creative and different ways to be emotionally close while staying apart.

If you decide to celebrate in person, it’s important to understand the restrictions or requirements for travelers. Check for any state or local travel restrictions before you leave home and be aware: they could change during your travel. Kaiser Permanente recommends that both unvaccinated and vaccinated people follow the CDC’s considerations to reduce your risk of exposure.

  • Delay travel until you are fully vaccinated. If you are not fully vaccinated and must travel, follow the CDC’s recommendations for people who are not fully vaccinated.
  • Know you’re healthy before you go. Don’t travel or gather if you are sick or with someone who is sick, or if you have been around someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days.
  • Avoid crowded, poorly ventilated spaces. Gatherings and activities held outdoors are safer than indoor gatherings.
  • Continue practicing healthy behaviors. Wear a protective mask, watch your distance, and wash your hands frequently.

And if you must travel, make sure you understand how to get care while you’re away. You never know what might come up when you’re away from home, so it’s important to be prepared and have a plan.

“Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 certainly provides a level of protection that we didn’t have at this time last year,” said Dr. Robbins. “It’s understandable that people have developed fatigue dealing with the complexities and confusion regarding this disease and want to put this behind them, but we are still very much in a pandemic. We’ve seen increases in cases after each major holiday. To avoid another surge, we have to keep up our guard.”