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Holiday Gathering Guide

It’s the time of year when getting together is common, but with winter illnesses, it can be hard to know how to stay healthy. Here are some considerations to help you navigate the holiday season.

The holidays are here and the invitations are pouring in…but so are the germs. Not only are fever-based illness levels higher than they’ve been in 5 years, Kinsa’s data team is seeing a huge spike in our illness forecast right after Thanksgiving. We want to help you avoid riding that wave. Here are some questions to consider as you plan your social calendar.

Are You Vaccinated?

Vaccines can prevent you from getting ill, or reduce the severity of symptoms. Before you start planning a busy holiday season, consider getting vaccinated for flu and COVID-19 to help prevent illness and minimize spread. Both flu and COVID-19 vaccines are safe for children as young as 6 months. For babies younger than 6 months, consider limiting the number of people who hold or kiss them, to minimize exposure to germs.

Is Anyone in Your Household Ill?

This seems like a basic question, but it’s an important one – if anyone in your family (or you!) are sick, stay home. We’ve all been there, ready to head out the door to see loved ones, and then, bam! Someone starts running a fever or has an upset stomach. It’s disappointing, but you really don’t want the gift you give this year to be a contagious illness. 

If there’s one thing the past few years have taught us, it’s to have a back-up plan. Consider thinking through how you’d celebrate with just your household or virtually in case you or someone else can’t attend. 

And if you are sick, we’ve got some tips to help navigate the yuck. If you have COVID-19, consider talking to your doctor about Paxlovid, or Tamiflu if you have the flu.

How Big is the Party?

The bigger the crowd, the more likely it is that someone there will be passing a germ along. You’re the only one who can make the decision, so think now about what kind of limits you want to put on crowd size, and then stick to that plan.

When is the Event?

One of the best ways to reduce risks is to increase precautions in the week or two leading up to the event. This means cutting back on social interactions and masking up with a high-quality mask. Masks protect against more than COVID-19 – they also help reduce transmission of RSV and flu, too. 

Are You Hosting? 

First of all, we hope it goes smoothly.😊 But also, if you’re hosting, you get to control the environment to help reduce the spread of illness. Ventilation is your friend here. Even when it’s cold, a cracked window can help circulate air and decrease the amount of germs lingering in the room. If your home has central heat, use your thermostat to turn the fan to “on” instead of “auto.” You can also improve air filtration in your home by ensuring your furnace has new, pleated filters and using a portable air cleaner in rooms where people are gathering. 

Also, your house, your rules. If you want to hand out masks and hand sanitizer to everyone as they walk in and say they are required for attendance, we support you in that.

Do You Have Vulnerable People in Your Life?

If you have someone in your life who might be more severely affected by getting ill, consider limiting your social calendar or making sure to practice good health hygiene before seeing them. You know the drill – mask indoors, wash your hands regularly, stay away if you’re symptomatic. We recommend taking a rapid COVID test the morning of the event; don’t forget, your insurance covers eight free tests per month, for each member of the household. 

Have You Taken Your Temperature Recently?

In such a busy time of year, it can be easy to dismiss feeling a little off as just being tired or run down. It can be a good idea to take your temperature to understand what your baseline is, and to know if you’re running a mild fever or not. And if you are running a mild fever, see above about staying home when you’re sick (sorry 😕)!