For people planning on gathering with family and friends, there are a variety of steps that can protect against the transmission of these diseases and reduce their severity if they are transmitted.
- Hold gatherings outdoors, weather permitting, or in well-ventilated areas.
- Wear a high-quality mask or respirator (N95 or KN95) and encourage others to do so as well, particularly if you’re around elderly or immunocompromised people.
- Get a flu vaccine and make sure you’re up to date on COVID vaccines and boosters.
- If you have symptoms of the flu or COVID, avoid get-togethers.
Should I get a COVID and/or flu test before going to a holiday gathering?
Because one can be infected with and transmit the virus responsible for COVID-19 without having symptoms of the disease, it can be a good idea to take a rapid COVID test just before a holiday gathering. While there are tests for the flu, they aren’t as simple as at-home COVID tests. Contact your health care provider if you have questions.
Should people at high risk for severe COVID or the flu take extra precautions?
People with a compromised immune system or who are over age 65 have a heightened risk of severe illness if infected with the viruses for the flu or COVID-19. Such individuals should be especially careful to avoid infection — by avoiding groups that include people with respiratory disease symptoms, by wearing a quality face mask or respirator, and staying in well-ventilated areas. they should also be sure to be up to date on their flu vaccine and COVID vaccines and boosters.
Ultimately, the decision of whether to attend holiday gatherings is a personal one. After perhaps missing such events in recent years due to COVID, many people are looking forward to resuming these holiday traditions with their families. If getting together with friends and family, try to minimize the risk if the gathering involves individuals at high risk of severe disease.