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Tips for Avoiding COVID-19 and the Omicron Variant During the Holidays

Published: Dec 22, 2021

The rapidly increasing Omicron variant is causing families to re-think their holiday plans. Early indications suggest that monoclonal antibody treatments are not as effective against Omicron as they have been with other variants, so prevention is more important than ever.

The primary prevention for COVID-19 is vaccination. If you’ve had a two-dose series of the vaccine, a booster will offer additional protection. If you are unvaccinated and previously had a COVID-19 infection, you will not be as protected. It is recommended that you get the vaccine. 

If you choose to celebrate the Holiday, here are important tips to lower your risk:

  • If you are not fully vaccinated and aged 2 or older, wear a mask in indoor public places.
  • In areas with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, such as Hillsborough County, wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings.
  • If you are fully vaccinated, to maximize protection and prevent possibly spreading COVID-19 to others, wear a mask indoors and in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission. Note: Hillsborough County and the Tampa Bay area are currently listed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as a substantial risk.
  • Persons with weakened immune systems are not fully protected even if they are vaccinated. They should continue to take all recommended Infection Prevention precautions, including wearing a well-fitted mask.
  • Limit the number of attendees as much as possible.
  • Remind guests to stay home if they are sick.
  • Host your gathering outdoors.
  • Avoid holding gatherings in crowded, indoor spaces. If this is not feasible, make sure the space is well-ventilated (i.e., open windows and turn on fans).
  • Stay home and do not attend gatherings if:
    • You were exposed to someone diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • You have symptoms associated with COVID-19: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • At all times, ensure guests are following respiratory etiquette:
    • Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
    • Throw used tissues in wastebasket.
    • If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow.
  • Arrange tables/chairs to allow for social distancing.
  • Wear masks when less than 6 feet apart from people or indoors.
  • Clean your hands for at least 20 seconds when entering and exiting social gatherings. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • Place hand sanitizer at the doorway and at the dining room table to serve as a reminder to guests.
  • Encourage attendees to clean their hands often.
  • Remind guests to wash their hands before serving or eating food.
  • Looking for team-building activities? Host outdoor gatherings like an outdoor movie night.
  • Avoid higher-risk activities such as using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgment, and increase risky behaviors.