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Information and advice from HealthONE’s Dr. Connie Desarden, MD

Last year, our holiday gatherings looked a little different. Friends and family traveled less, virtual Zoom gatherings were held, and safety protocols were in place.

Now more than ever, we are eager to get together with our loved ones once again. But just one month ago, Colorado faced the highest number of hospitalizations in all of 2021, with 90 percent of ICU beds in use. And as winter emerges, public health experts are keeping a close eye on cases.

Americans are expected to travel for the holidays at pre-pandemic levels, filling roads and airports with millions of people—including international travelers who are welcomed back after a year and a half long travel ban. So whether traveling far or gathering nearby, here are some helpful reminders on how to keep everyone safe and healthy this holiday season.

  1. Get vaccinated: Vaccines are up to 95 percent effective at preventing infection and are nearly a hundred percent effective at preventing hospitalization or death. Recently, the FDA approved vaccinations for children as young as five years old, and boosters are now available to every Coloradan. There is no better way to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 than getting fully vaccinated and receiving your booster shot.
  • Celebrating with others: Many of us probably know someone who is unvaccinated and you may have some apprehensions gathering with them. Aside from wearing masks, open windows to help increase ventilation. Also take general precautions like frequently washing your hands and using hand sanitizer.
  • Get the flu shot: Last year we experienced record lows when it came to the flu, potentially making us more vulnerable this year. Like the COVID-19 vaccine, flu shots are the best way to avoid coming down with seasonal viruses and can help prevent the worst symptoms.
  • If you become sick: Don’t panic! Go to a testing location and read up on proper quarantine and isolation guidelines. If you test positive for COVID-19, inform anyone you’ve been in close contact with. And if your symptoms worsen, visit a local medical facility for additional care and treatment.

Following CDC guidelines will not only help keep you safe and healthy, but it will also protect vulnerable family and friends from the flu, COVID-19, and other illnesses. Listen to your body this holiday season and take the necessary precautions so we can all celebrate comfortably with one another.