The CDC Released Its COVID-19 Guidelines for the 2021 Holidays—Here’s What You Need to Know

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The CDC Released Its COVID-19 Guidelines for the 2021 Holidays—Here’s What You Need to Know
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just released guidelines for safely celebrating with family this holiday season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • CDC holiday guidelines 2021 include getting vaccinated and wearing masks indoors when around people from other households, especially in areas with high COVID-19 transmission.

  • “By working together, we can enjoy safer holidays, travel, and protect our own health as well as the health of our family and friends,” the CDC writes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just released its guidance for navigating the 2021 holiday season—the second affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and other celebrations are sure to look different once again, the CDC’s 2021 holiday guidelines ensure that with a few precautions, you’ll still be able to gather with family. Here’s how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe this holiday season, per the CDC:

First and foremost, get vaccinated

“Because many generations tend to gather to celebrate holidays, the best way to minimize COVID-19 risk and keep your family and friends safer is to get vaccinated if you’re eligible,” begins the CDC’s 2021 holiday guidance. “Protect those not yet eligible for vaccination, such as young children, by getting yourself and other eligible people around them vaccinated.”

So far, over three-quarters of eligible Americans have received at least one dose of the three available COVID-19 vaccines, per the CDC, which have been proven to be remarkably safe and effective. The vaccines didn’t roll out in time for last year’s holiday season, and they’re shaping up to be the most important factor in safe celebrations this year.

Other health authorities are backing up the importance of the vaccines: “If you’re vaccinated, and your family members are vaccinated, those who are eligible,” Anthony Fauci, M.D., the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, recently said on ABC’s This Week, “you can enjoy the holidays.”

Celebrate outdoors if you can, and wear face masks when indoors

Celebrating outdoors is safer than indoors, and you should avoid crowded, poorly ventilated spaces, the CDC warns. If you’re planning to spend time indoors with people from outside of your household, masks are very much encouraged.

And properly wearing your face mask is still important—the CDC urges people to wear face masks over their mouths and noses in public. “Even those who are fully vaccinated should wear a mask in public indoor settings in communities with substantial to high transmission,” the agency writes.

Masking has been shown to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure for both the wearer and the people around them. “You might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission if a member of your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is unvaccinated,” the CDC guidelines state. Children under two years old, however, should not wear face masks.

If traveling, do so safely

If you’re planning to travel during the holiday season, it’s imperative you do so as safely as possible, the CDC explains. “Everyone, even people who are fully vaccinated, is required to wear a mask on public transportation,” the agency explains.

If you’re unvaccinated, travel poses even more of a risk. (That’s why the CDC urges all who are eligible to receive their COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible.) Per the CDC’s travel guidelines for people who are not fully vaccinated, you should get tested before your trip, wear a mask, distance as much as possible from people outside of your household, and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer when hand washing isn't possible. After arriving, you should also get a COVID-19 test as soon as possible and self-quarantine for at least a full week, even if your test is negative.

“By working together,” the CDC writes, “we can enjoy safer holidays, travel, and protect our own health as well as the health of our family and friends.”

When in doubt, get tested

If you are sick or have COVID-like symptoms, do not host or attend a gathering, the CDC warns. The best way to ensure you don't have COVID, is to check. “Get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have close contact with someone who has COVID-19,” the CDC writes. Though breakthrough cases are still fairly rare, they can happen. So this recommendation applies to all—no matter your vaccination status.

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