Tips for COVID-safe holiday gatherings

Staff Reports

Don’t let COVID ruin Christmas.

As families plan holiday gatherings, physicians from the Texas Medical Association’s (TMA) COVID-19 Task Force have four recommendations to avoid spreading the COVID-19 omicron or delta variant to loved ones.

Artemio Villarreal received his vaccine at REAL INC. in Alice.

First on the list: Vaccination.

“Get your booster shot before the holidays. This will provide you and your family the best protection against COVID-19 and the omicron variant,” said Jan Patterson, MD, a member of TMA’s COVID-19 Task Force.

Early data show people who are fully vaccinated against the virus and receive a booster shot have the best protection against severe disease from the omicron variant.

“It looks like just two doses are not enough to protect against omicron. The booster dose is needed,” Dr. Patterson said.

Physicians and researchers believe omicron can easily spread from person to person.

“Vaccination is the best protection against COVID-19 for you, and for your family and friends,” she said.

In addition to getting the vaccine and the booster, the TMA COVID-19 Task Force physicians recommend the following measures for safer holiday gatherings:

If you are not boosted, take a rapid antigen test shortly before the gathering to ensure you don’t have an infection that you could spread to loved ones;

Wear a mask while gathering in crowded public venues; and

Plan outdoor gatherings when possible, or open windows at indoor celebrations.

Approximately 56% of Texans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and nearly one-quarter of Texans also have received a booster shot.