Navigating the holidays during COVID

Another festive season is nearly upon us, and for the second year in a row COVID-19 may change the way many of us celebrate.

Vaccines have certainly given us hope for a brighter future because they have shown to be very effective at preventing hospitalisation and death. But the more transmissible Delta variant, the fact that children under 12 are not yet eligible to be vaccinated, and vaccine hesitancy among some portions of the population means that getting together with friends and family in the old ways we’re used to may not be the safest option again this year.

Aside from these concerns, there’s also the question of what to do if your views about COVID-19 and vaccination don’t align with other family members. How do you protect the health of your family while still maintaining good relationships with those who may see things differently? Do you risk it and visit unvaccinated family members? Do you opt for a gathering with only vaccinated adults? How do you bow out of events that don’t feel safe to you?

First of all, it’s important to know how to protect your family members, including those who are fully vaccinated but may not be fully protected because of weakened immune systems due to medical conditions. Vaccines are highly effective against severe illness, but the Delta variant causes more infections and spreads faster than earlier forms of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Ultimately how you choose to spend the holidays is a decision only you can make. If you opt out of family gatherings this year to protect the health and safety of your loved ones, you may be able to soften the blow using these tactics:

  • Suggest a make-up time to get together sometime next year when everyone feels safe and comfortable.
  • As long as local public health regulations allow, get together with select family members who are also fully vaccinated before or after the holidays for a smaller, safer gathering.
  • Let everyone know your plans well in advance so no one is caught off guard.
  • Don’t apologise for your decision, but to maintain peace in the family don’t lay the burden of guilt for your absence on anyone else. For example, you might simply say, “Because we’re concerned about anyCOVID-19 cases fueled by the Delta variant, we’re going to opt to stay home this year.”
  • If your family members are local, spend a day doing quick, drive-by visits to safely drop off gifts or goodies while staying outdoors. That way you can still see everyone and wish them a happy holiday.

When it comes right down to it, the happiest holiday is a safe and healthy one. For more advice on how to stay healthy at home, visit World Health Organization and for additional information on how to make holiday celebrations safer during COVID-19, visit the CDC



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