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COVID Safety Practices This Holiday Season

COVID Safety Practices This Holiday Season

It may not feel like it, but Boulder County has been relatively fortunate when it comes to COVID-19. Thanks to our community’s shared commitment to getting vaccinated, wearing masks and taking other safety precautions, we’ve fared relatively well compared to other areas.

Nonetheless, almost all of us have suffered emotionally from a collective anxiety driven by the ebb and flow of this disease. We have seen vaccinations increase steadily, but new infections also persist. Hospitalizations will drop for a week or so but then spike back up. Restaurants will start getting busy but then see reservations falter when there’s new COVID-related bad news.

A couple months ago, many of us started looking forward to holiday get-togethers with friends and family. The discovery of the highly infectious Omicron variant in early November and the arrival of that variant in Boulder County have rekindled uncertainty about how to prudently and safely celebrate. I want to assure you that our BCH Infectious Diseases physicians are closely monitoring the evolving information about Omicron. Much is still unknown right now, but scientists across the world are working nonstop to analyze and understand Omicron.

Here’s what we do know:

• Vaccines remain the best option for protecting yourself from COVID-19 and slowing the spread of the disease. COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations and death.

• Masks offer protection against all variants. The BCH Infectious Diseases team recommends wearing at least a well-fitted surgical mask in public indoor settings, regardless of your vaccination status.

Even though we’re emotionally fatigued by COVID-19, we need to maintain our personal commitments to continuing important safety practices over this holiday season.

While not gathering with family and friends provides the lowest risk, please watch this personal video from BCH infectious diseases physician Dr. Amie Meditz on ways you can make gathering as safe as possible this holiday season.

Dr. Meditz’s recommendations include:

• Vaccination is key to reducing the risk of holiday gatherings.

If you haven’t gotten vaccinated yet, get your shot as soon as possible! Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines are now favored over the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine.

Adults should get a booster vaccination with Pfizer or Moderna six months after your second dose or two months after the single dose J&J. Teens ages 16 and17 are also eligible for a Pfizer booster. We are now understanding that this additional dose is needed to be maximally protected. 

You can schedule an initial vaccine or booster from BCH at MyBCH or local vaccine provider.

• Keep gatherings small, less than 10 people.

• Wear at least a well-fitting surgical mask in indoor public places. Remember to fully cover your nose and mouth.

• Choose outdoors over indoors whenever possible. If indoors with others, open windows to circulate air.

• Get tested if you have symptoms and do not attend gatherings. Information on testing from BCH is available here.

• Even if you don’t have symptoms, testing negative through the use of at-home antigen test kits immediately before gatherings can also be used to help reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission. These kits can be purchased from local pharmacies or Colorado residents can receive free kits through the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) Rapid At-Home Testing Program here.

While COVID impacts everyone, it undoubtedly creates tremendous stress for health care workers. It’s been a tough year for the doctors, nurses and other frontline staff at BCH and other county hospitals, but it could have been much worse. We want to thank everyone who is fully vaccinated, routinely wears a mask and avoids large gatherings indoors. Your everyday actions make our lives easier.

We hope your holidays are happy and healthy.