SAN DIEGO – Halloween is an annual favorite for Damian Skibes’ family.
“Being able to dress up scary and get the kids ready is always a lot of fun,” he said.
About two weeks before the holiday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance Friday on health protections aimed at keeping families safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The public health agency is urging eligible residents to get vaccinated, particularly as “many generations tend to gather to celebrate holidays,” a CDC news release shows.
“Everyone who is eligible to be vaccinated, please get vaccinated,” said Dr. Jyotu Sandhu, a family medicine physician at Sharp HealthCare. “Because you are doing it for yourself, your family, those kids and also everyone else around them.”
In general, the latest CDC guidance calls for protecting those not eligible to be vaccinated, such as young children. The agency is recommending that well-fitting masks be worn indoors over the nose and mouth for the unvaccinated as well as in indoor public settings in communities with substantial to high transmission.
Other recommendations include avoiding crowded and poorly ventilated areas; avoiding hosting or attending gatherings if you feel sick; and getting tested for COVID-19 if any symptoms arise.
Skibes said this year marks “a very big change” from the past year and that his family fully intends to take advantage of the area’s fun fall festivities.
“We are excited for the holidays every year,” he said, “whether the whole pandemic going on or it not being on. It’s just a time to get together and everybody have a good time.”
If you are considering traveling for a holiday or event, visit CDC’s Travel page to help you decide what is best for you and your family. CDC still recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated.
- If you are not fully vaccinated and must travel, follow CDC’s domestic travel or international travel recommendations for unvaccinated people.
- If you will be traveling in a group or family with unvaccinated people, choose safer travel options.
- Everyone, even people who are fully vaccinated, is required to wear a mask on public transportation and follow international travel recommendations.
“Since COVID has gone down, we feel (safer) when people are outdoors,” Sandhu said, “and partaking in trick-or-treating, practicing social distancing, making sure that if they are gathered in areas that are highly dense to wear a mask – and keep social distance and make sure you are outside with proper ventilation.”
The CDC guidance also includes recommendations for those requiring special considerations. Among them:
- People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken their immune system may not be fully protected even if they are fully vaccinated and have received an additional dose. They should continue to take all precautions recommended for unvaccinated people, including wearing a well-fitted mask, until advised otherwise by their healthcare provider.
- 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.
- If you are gathering with a group of people from multiple households and potentially from different parts of the country, you could consider additional precautions (e.g., avoiding crowded indoor spaces before travel, taking a test) in advance of gathering to further reduce risk.
- Do NOT put a mask on children younger than 2 years old.