How to keep the medically vulnerable safe during the holidays

You can take several steps to protect those with weakened immune systems from COVID-19

1 in 3 Parents Think Holiday Family Gatherings Are Worth Risk of COVID-19. The findings are according to the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health at Michigan Medicine. 1,500 parents with at least one child age 12 or under were polled. . Our report suggests that while many children have spent less time with relatives during the pandemic, some parents may have a hard time foregoing holiday gatherings in order to reduce COVID-19 risks, Sarah Clark, poll co-director, via CNN. We all know that large public gatherings carry great risks of spreading COVID-19. , Sarah Clark, poll co-director, via CNN. But small and casual social gatherings where people feel most 'safe' are also part of what has been fueling transmission, Sarah Clark, poll co-director, via CNN. Last week, the CDC updated its guidance to urge Americans against traveling for Thanksgiving. . According to Johns Hopkins University, over 250,000 Americans have died of COVID-19. The prudent thing to do for now is to just pull back and just keep it within the family unit that you live with instead of having people from the outside come in, Sarah Clark, poll co-director, via CNN

If you or a loved one is immunocompromised and therefore at a higher risk of becoming severely ill from COIVD-19, it’s more important than ever to plan ahead for upcoming holiday gatherings. Among those at heightened risk are cancer and transplant patients who are taking immunosuppression medication, in addition to patients with advanced and untreated HIV/AIDS.

Dr. Raymund Razonable, a Mayo Clinic infectious diseases physician who works with transplant patients, explains the steps patients and their loved ones can take to reduce their risk of getting infected with COVID-19 during the holiday season.

When it comes to protecting those with weakened immune systems from COVID-19, people can take several steps.

“The No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 (things are) vaccine, vaccine, vaccine. Get vaccinated,” Razonable said. “That’s still the best measure to prevent infection.”

He recommends that patients who are immunocompromised receive three doses of the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine or two doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

It’s also just as important to keep a circle of safety around you. In other words, ensure family and friends you come into contact with also are vaccinated.

“I usually advise my patients that if you love your relatives who are immunocompromised, then get the vaccine, because this will make it less likely for you to get the virus. And if you’re around them, that means you are less likely to transmit the virus,” Razonable said.

Keeping track of COVID-19 case counts in your local community can help when deciding risks associated with various activities.

“If the transmission in the community is pretty high, then this is probably not the best time to go out in public areas. If you really have to go out, make sure you know to mask up and try to kind of stay away from large gatherings as much as possible,” he added.

Finally, if immunocompromised patients are exposed, they should contact their health care provider right away, even if they don’t have symptoms.

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Information in this post was accurate at the time of its posting. Due to the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientific understanding, along with guidelines and recommendations, may have changed since the original publication date.