Dr. Daniel Edney
Ah…the holidays are upon us! And getting closer to family has a whole new meaning this year. For many, this has always been an exciting time of year…shopping, gathering, and celebrating with our friends, loved ones, and family members. And as we continue to emerge from our pandemic isolation, there is not only hesitance by some to get vaccinated, but there is also hesitance by others to mix company with those who have chosen to not get vaccinated. So, the question is “How do we safely get closer during the holidays?”
Certainly, we all have an innate desire to ensure everyone’s health and safety, particularly our family and loved ones. And while, we may feel that the question of vaccination to be a personal responsibility, we should consider that when others are introduced into the equation, particularly in large groups, it becomes a shared problem. In this situation, it is not unreasonable to take initiative by calling unvaccinated family members and ask them, in a non-judgmental way, for their ideas about the safest way to gather. By jointly brainstorming ideas, this gives everyone an opportunity to take ownership over the solution.
Another option, particularly if you will have multiple families from different places mixing, is to request that each person take a COVID-19 rapid test. You can ask that your guests take one before their arrival to your home or administer the tests as your guests arrive, starting with your own family. Rapid tests are accessible at retail locations like local pharmacies, supercenters, and online. Since rapid tests indicate the amount of virus contained in your nose at the time the test is administered, this is a great indicator whether a person should be isolating. Of course, if rapid testing proves to be a financial challenge for your guests and you, wearing masks is an alternative to keep your family, your guests, and you safe. Offering a custom, holiday mask to each guest can prove very festive and hospitable.
Also remember, that regardless of vaccination status, one of the safest places to gather is outdoors. If weather conditions do not permit an outdoor gathering, other things to consider are opening some windows and purchasing a HEPA air purifier for your home. And as the host, you always can limit the number of guests you invite into your home.
Now that you have addressed the elephant in the room, you can enjoy that juicy turkey on the dinner table!