How To Celebrate Christmas During a Pandemic & Flu Season
Posted on December 9, 2021
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The following article is guest authored by Dr. Alexandria Yarborough, PharmD. She is a Pharmacy Manager in South Carolina and a Families Fighting Flu Advocate.
Christmas is known as the most wonderful time of the year – but it also is prime time to come down with the flu. Most of us have had experience with the flu and managed to get over it with time, but the flu is still a serious disease that causes tens of thousands of deaths every year. Everyone should consider getting a flu shot. This will help safeguard not only yourself but also the spreading of the flu to vulnerable populations like young children and the elderly.
While it is possible to catch the flu any time of the year, you are particularly susceptible during the winter months for multiple reasons. Simply put, the virus is more stable when the air is cold and dry. Add to this the stress of the holiday, your immune system is weakened by that stress, and travel during the holiday.
Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. In order for these antibodies to provide protection against infection with circulating influenza viruses, the last date you should get the flu shot this year is December 11th in order to be protected by Christmas.
Other ways to stay healthy this Christmas and holiday season include:
Consider traveling to your high-risk friends and relatives to minimize their risk. Always try to plan around the most vulnerable person.
If the adults are fully vaccinated but the kids are not – pass the pudding, please. The risk goes down greatly when all eligible adults and teenagers are vaccinated. Partially vaccinated children will have some protection, and younger kids are largely protected if they’re surrounded by vaccinated people.
If not all adults are fully vaccinated, you may be dealing with some difficult conversations and/or hurt feelings this year. Express your concerns factually, and if you do decide to celebrate together, focus on safety and ways to protect the most vulnerable instead of arguing about vaccines. Increase ventilation in indoor spaces or consider outdoor gatherings if weather permits.
Utilize rapid testing via testing locations or at-home kits.
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