Planning a trip or end-of-year celebration? For many people, holidays are associated with traveling to visit family and friends, or just to experience new places. But the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic raises many questions on how to stay safe. Whatever you have planned for the coming weeks, it is important that you and your family enjoy a healthy season. Here are some tips to help, according to the World Health Organization:
Be aware of risks
The level of risk depends greatly on where you live. Follow guidance from your local authorities and stay informed about COVID-19 transmission in your area.
Different activities also carry different risks. For any in-person gatherings, consider whether others in the group are vaccinated if they take precautions, and where and for how long you’ll be meeting – meeting outside and for shorter periods of time have less risk.
World Health Organization-approved COVID-19 vaccines are safe and highly effective at protecting against severe illness and death from COVID-19. The vaccines also help to protect those around you. No vaccine offers 100 percent protection though, so it is important to continue taking precautions to protect yourself and others even once vaccinated. This includes wearing a mask, physical distancing and regular handwashing.
According to WHO, the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines wanes around 4-6 months after the primary series of vaccination has been completed. Taking a booster to strengthen your protection against serious disease is recommended if it is available to you.
Make sure you and your family are also up to date with your routine vaccinations as recommended by your local health authorities, such as the seasonal flu vaccine.
If you are feeling ill, stay home
Do not attend or host gatherings if you or someone in your family is sick or has symptoms of COVID-19. Stay home, seek medical advice and help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Consider any travel plans carefully
All travel comes with some risk of getting or spreading COVID-19. Before you travel, check if COVID-19 is spreading in your local area and in any of the places you are going.
Do not travel if you or your family are sick or have any symptoms of COVID-19. Unvaccinated family members who are at higher risk for severe illness (older family members, those with underlying medical conditions) should consider postponing all travel until they are fully vaccinated.
If you do choose to travel, try to avoid travelling at peak times. Check for any travel restrictions in your local area, and all places you’re planning to visit. Keep in mind, these policies may change with little advance notice and your travel plans may be disrupted. If flying, carefully checks the travel requirements of your airline carrier.
When you return home, follow any recommendations or requirements from your national or local authorities, and continue to follow all the key precautions – including watching for any symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking medical advice if they develop.
Be smart about large gatherings
Crowded, confined and enclosed spaces with poor ventilation and mass gatherings such as concerts, events and parties can pose greater risk. Outdoor gatherings or settings that are well ventilated are safer.
If you are planning a get together with friends and family from different households, consider taking extra precautions before you meet, such as taking a COVID-19 test if available.