November 15, 2022

Pack some caution this holiday season

These 4 tips can help keep COVID-19 from derailing your trip.

Wear a mask when using indoor public transportation. And keep masking if you or someone you’re visiting is at high risk for severe illness.

Going somewhere? Remember, COVID-19 likes to travel, too.

While widespread vaccination and new treatments have eased some concerns about COVID-19, it’s still important to know how to protect yourself and others when you’re on the go or visiting unvaccinated or immunocompromised family and friends.

“Across the globe and in our neighborhoods, the virus is continuing to spread and create new variants,” said Craig Robbins, MD, physician co-lead for Kaiser Permanente’s national COVID-19 vaccination program.

“We’re not out of the woods yet. The most important thing anyone can do to protect themselves against infection is to get vaccinated and boosted.”

Follow these tips to reduce your risk of getting or spreading COVID-19 and other viruses when traveling or celebrating with family and friends.

Get vaccinated and boosted

Everyone 6 months of age and older is eligible for COVID-19 vaccination.

Everyone age 5 and up can get an updated mRNA booster shot (also known as the bivalent booster) if it’s been at least 2 months since your initial vaccination series or your last original (or monovalent) booster.

The updated booster provides better protection against the omicron variants that are currently circulating. In some limited situations, people 18 and up also have the option of getting the Novavax booster as a first booster.

For the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccines and how to find a vaccination or booster appointment in your area, visit kp.org/covidvaccine.

It’s also important to get the flu shot this year. It’s safe to get the flu shot and COVID-19 booster at the same time. And it’s best to get vaccinated at least 2 weeks before traveling or getting together with family and friends.

It’s especially important for kids to stay up to date on COVID-19 and flu vaccinations this year as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and cases of flu and RSV — or respiratory syncytial virus — are already on the rise. And there isn’t yet a vaccination for RSV.

Practice prevention to avoid a ‘tridemic’

Many of the precautions doctors recommend to prevent COVID-19 can also help protect you from flu and RSV:

  • Wash your hands often
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
  • Sneeze or cough into your arm
  • Avoid close contact with sick people
  • Stay home when you are sick

In addition, while many airlines, trains, and other forms of mass transportation no longer require wearing a mask, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends wearing one in indoor areas when using public transportation. And it’s a good idea to wear a mask indoors if you or someone in your family is at high risk for severe illness.

“Spending time with loved ones and attending special events is important for your emotional and psychological health,” Dr. Robbins said. “At the same time, if you’re personally at high risk or with people at high risk for severe illness, you should consider added safety measures like wearing a mask and avoiding crowded, poorly ventilated spaces.”

Continue using home antigen tests

Before attending any indoor event or gathering, it’s a good idea to take a COVID-19 home antigen test. If your test result is positive, stay home and isolate, and contact your doctor if you need guidance or support.

Kaiser Permanente members with a kp.org account can order no-cost self-tests to be mailed to their homes.

Learn about all the ways to access self-tests at kp.org/covidtests.

Asian woman holding a covid rapid test

Use home antigen tests before attending indoor events or gatherings.

Go for the ‘great outdoors’ option

If you plan to be with people you don’t live with or you’re unsure of their health or vaccination status, opt for outdoor events: parades, holiday markets, hikes, or meals at restaurants with heated patios.

You’re less likely to contract COVID-19 when you’re outside, even without the use of masks.

If you do plan to gather with family and friends indoors, improving ventilation and wearing masks can help protect your loved ones.

Know how to get care away from home

If you do get sick or injured while traveling, Kaiser Permanente members have virtual and in-person care options across the United States. Visit kp.org/travel for more information about preparing for your trip and accessing care while traveling.

Traveling safely doesn’t mean you have to spend your trip worrying. By deciding what works for you in advance, you can get straight to what’s important — enjoying the holidays and celebrating time together with friends and family.