15 Dec What You Need to Know to Stay Safe this Holiday Season
As we enter this holiday season, we at the BCAC take this opportunity to plead with our community to be EXTREMELY vigilant in protecting yourselves, your families and your neighbors from COVID. The Omicron variant is a particularly significant new threat and, as I am sure you are aware by now, is spreading rapidly throughout the region and the nation. In fact, 200,000 new COVID cases were reported on December 13th alone! This alarming statistic is on top of the recent report of the 800,000th U.S. death from COVID.
This is what we want you to know:
- The Omicron variant has increased its presence in the U.S. by seven times in the past week. We are especially concerned that it has the ability to evade much of our body’s defense systems, whether from previous COVID infection or our vaccines. However, please note that Booster doses, in addition to the previous two dose vaccination with Moderna or Pfizer vaccines or the single J &J vaccine, does confer significant protection from serious illness, hospitalization and death.
- You may have read that the Omicron variant doesn’t seem to cause as serious an illness as the Delta variant is demonstrating. It’s too early to tell if this is true but, one thing we know for sure is that if you do the math of a rapidly spreading serious illness, a lot of people are going to get very ill and die. Even mild infections can be come serious so, let’s do all we can to stop the spread today. Vaccinations, mask wearing, maintaining physical distance, and hand washing are still the best prevention.
- Unfortunately, only 55 million of 200 million fully vaccinated people have received their booster shots.. We are especially worried about our seniors because only half of nursing home residents have received their booster shots. We note with sadness the data reported this week that COVID has killed one out of every 100 U.S. seniors. Please do all you can to get the seniors in your life, and in your community, vaccinated. Remember: anyone 16 and older who received their two shot vaccine doses at least six months ago, or a single shot vaccine dose at least two months ago is eligible for the booster vaccine! Get yours TODAY!
- Please get your unvaccinated children aged five and above vaccinated as soon as possible, and any unvaccinated adults as well. Remember that it takes approximately three weeks after the first dose before a person is eligible for the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. You are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after the second dose in a 2-dose series or 2 weeks after the single-dose J&J vaccine. So, be sure to get that first dose in immediately, and then get your booster as soon as you are eligible.
- We are particularly worried that the Christmas holiday season celebrations will result in many more infections and deaths (just as the recent Thanksgiving holiday produced) because too many of us are not following science-based prevention guidance. This, combined with more indoor events due to the cold weather, the already existing Delta variant, and the flu season, will all result in a lot of sick people and place a real burden on our hospital system. There are already too many reports from around the country of hospitals turning away emergency cases because there were no beds available. We are all in this together…what you do, or don’t do, affects the people around you. This is definitely not the season for selfishness.
6. If you are planning a Holiday Celebration, we offer this advice:
- Communicate in advance your rules .…especially mask mandates for anyone not fully vaccinated with at least two doses of the two dose regimens and one dose of the J&J. If there are elderly or immunocompromised people at the gathering, we strongly urge adding a booster requirement as well. If not, mask wearing is MANDATORY!
- If you are sick or have symptoms, do not host or attend a gathering.
- Outdoors is better than indoors, weather permitting.
- Avoid crowded, poorly ventilated spaces: be smart before your family gathering by staying away from bars and indoor events for 5-7 days before the family celebration just to be sure you are not bringing home an unwelcome gift to your family. Let’s not give the gift of COVID this year.
- No play dates for children with unmasked or unvaccinated friends.
- Get tested immediately if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have close contact with someone who has COVID-19
We at the BCAC love and care about our community. This pandemic is not over and too many lives are in the balance. This is not the season to be COVID-tired because COVID doesn’t get tired of killing human beings and it doesn’t take holiday’s off. Let’s not give the gift of COVID this year. We can get through this with love, compassion and a sincere commitment to the common welfare of all of us.