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Must you cancel your Christmas journey due to omicron? Listed here are 5 steps to remain wholesome through the holidays

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The quick rise of the omicron variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 caught many off guard. And now, with Christmas lower than every week away, many households are left pondering the identical query: Ought to we keep or ought to we go?

In keeping with the most recent forecast from AAA, greater than 109 million individuals had been set to journey 50 miles or additional for the tip of yr holidays, together with Christmas and New Yr’s. That’s up 34% from final yr, and simply 8% beneath the degrees seen earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic.

And plenty of extra households had been planning to fly this yr. AAA anticipated that 6.4 million individuals would journey by aircraft, almost triple the quantity of people that traveled that means final yr.

But, the emergence of the omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has many questioning their vacation plans, particularly as there’s been extra proof that people who find themselves vaccinated in opposition to the virus can nonetheless contract the omicron variant. As of Dec. 19, there have been over 72,000 new COVID-19 circumstances reported nationwide, based on the New York Instances COVID tracker. The variety of new circumstances has steadily risen all through December, and hospitalizations are additionally growing.

‘The reality is the most secure factor with COVID is to remain residence, if that’s the one consideration.’


— Dr. Preeti Malani, an infectious illness doctor and chief well being officer on the College of Michigan

To keep away from getting family and friends sick throughout this time of yr — and vice versa — essentially the most fool-proof technique could be to skip the vacation get-togethers and journeys. However the resolution on whether or not or to not observe by with these vacation plans isn’t so reduce and dry, infectious illness specialists mentioned.

“The reality is the most secure factor with COVID is to remain residence, if that’s the one consideration,” mentioned Dr. Preeti Malani, an infectious illness doctor and chief well being officer on the College of Michigan. After almost two full years of a pandemic, although, avoiding COVID isn’t the one consideration given the affect the disaster has offered to individuals’s psychological well being.

“There’s a big threat to not getting collectively this yr,” Malani mentioned. “Individuals have been remoted, and that’s each bit as a lot of a threat. You’ll be able to handle the chance of COVID by a layered method.”

Listed here are the steps households ought to take earlier than transferring ahead with any end-of-year plans to make sure everyone seems to be secure and wholesome:

Step 1: Get vaccinated (or boosted)

Public-health specialists throughout the board advocate getting vaccinated to guard in opposition to COVID-19, regardless that it’s attainable for vaccinated individuals to contract the sickness because of the omicron variant.

“No matter you’re planning on doing, that can lower the chance of the actions you interact in,” mentioned Dr. Aaron Glatt, chairman of the Division of Medication at Mount Sinai South Nassau and a spokesman for the Infectious Illness Society of America.

For individuals who had been already absolutely vaccinated — that means that they had acquired each of the 2 doses of the Pfizer
PFE,
+2.59%
and Moderna
MRNA,
-6.25%
vaccines or the one dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine
JNJ,
-0.29%
— getting boosted over time is equally necessary.

Whereas all three vaccines preserve their authorizations, Glatt suggested that sufferers contemplate the two-dose mRNA vaccines if attainable.

Step 2: Overview all attainable well being dangers

For individuals who are absolutely vaccinated, the chance of getting a extreme case of COVID-19 is low, based on well being specialists. However as has been the case because the begin of the pandemic, threat varies based mostly on individuals’s well being and way of life.

“Every particular person has to resolve what degree of threat they’re prepared to take,” Glatt mentioned. People who find themselves immune-compromised or produce other severe well being situations, for example, needs to be extraordinarily cautious about opting to take part in vacation gatherings that may enhance the probability of contracting COVID-19.

However COVID itself isn’t the one cause to contemplate the potential well being ramifications of touring proper now. With hospitalizations because of COVID rising, having access to well being take care of different situations is as soon as once more turning into a problem.

“God forbid you fall and break your leg — the whole lot goes to be tougher to care for,” Malani mentioned. Reviewing the standing of medical services — each the place you reside and in your vacation spot — needs to be a part of the planning course of.

Step 3: Think about the way you’re touring

Some types of transportation inherently pose extra threat than others, which might enhance the potential for getting sick. For example, driving to go to household for Christmas will cut back your publicity to others.

“Getting in a automotive with solely your speedy household that you just’re unmasked along with on a regular basis poses zero threat” from a COVID-19 perspective, Glatt mentioned, however he added that driving itself may be dangerous. In keeping with the Nationwide Security Council, holidays all year long are related to a better fee in automotive crashes that trigger accidents and deaths because of the roads being extra crowded and extra individuals driving drunk.

‘Getting in a automotive with solely your speedy household that you just’re unmasked along with on a regular basis poses zero threat.’


— Dr. Aaron Glatt, chairman of the Division of Medication at Mount Sinai South Nassau and a spokesman for the Infectious Illness Society of America

Well being specialists mentioned that being on a aircraft itself just isn’t essentially very dangerous. Passengers are required to put on masks, and the air-filtration programs on planes take away virus particles from the air. As a substitute, the chance comes with what occurs earlier than and after getting on the aircraft.

“A taxi cab or that Uber trip — whoever’s choosing you up may very well be somebody that introduces threat to you,” Malani mentioned. Equally, consuming contained in the airport may be dangerous because of COVID. She beneficial consuming earlier than heading to the airport if attainable, and whereas on the gate distancing from anybody who isn’t sporting a masks.

Step 4: When you arrive, take the correct precautions

All gatherings aren’t created equally from a COVID-19 perspective. Ideally, that household present alternate or dinner would happen outside and be distanced. However in colder elements of the nation, that might not be possible.

For bigger gatherings, staying masked will probably be useful to stop transmission. “Up till now I personally have used a surgical masks, however I I simply ordered some KN95s for some journey that my household goes to do,” Malani mentioned. Normally, masks needs to be tight-fitting and canopy each the nostril and mouth to be simplest.

If everybody must eat inside, well being specialists beneficial spreading individuals out as a lot as attainable and to contemplate consuming in a staggered vogue so everybody isn’t unmasked in shut quarters. For individuals who have entry to at-home speedy COVID-19 exams, testing everybody as they arrive may be one other solution to keep away from transmission.

Lastly, ensure that to set an ordinary for everybody who’s coming. For example, one solution to mitigate threat additional could be to restrict the quantity of publicity within the days main as much as the journey or gathering, Malani mentioned, by isolating as a lot as attainable. If a household chooses to do that, however has a cousin who has continued going out to unmasked areas, then they could wish to rescind that cousin’s invitation to maintain everybody secure, Malani mentioned. That form of robust dialog might hold many individuals secure.

Step 5: Take into consideration getting examined after your journey

Upon your return out of your vacation sojourn, it’s possible you’ll wish to contemplate taking one more COVID-19 take a look at, although as with the whole lot this will depend on the extent of threat at hand.

For somebody who merely traveled, stayed in a resort and attended a single masked get-together with their household however did little else, routine testing isn’t needed, Glatt mentioned.

“But when that particular person went someplace the place there was potential, important exposures — they had been indoors rather a lot however different individuals didn’t put on a masks and didn’t know who the encompassing individuals had been — then it’s definitely cheap to get examined,” he added.

Publish-trip testing may also be a sensible transfer for individuals who have pre-existing situations that put them at a better threat of getting a extra extreme COVID-19 case. That means, on the off likelihood somebody does take a look at optimistic, Malani mentioned, they will avail themselves of remedies like monoclonal antibodies extra shortly and hopefully stave off worse signs.

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