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Time for a plan. Ways to protect yourself and your family this holiday season.

The tree is up. The lights are hung. With the holidays quickly approaching, we know many families have one question:

How do we gather safely? 

As we enter the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are tired. COVID-19 cases in Pierce County remain higher than we’d like. Cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant are increasing throughout the state. With COVID-19 continuing, people are right to wonder if it’s still safe to get together for the holidays. 

As an RN with more than 40 years of experience, my family turned to me to develop a plan. Over the holidays, our household will gather with family ages from 2 to 92. When we gather, physical distancing isn’t always practical. We talked about the science and what we know so far about this new variant.   

Our plan to stay safe. 

First and foremost, the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and others is to be fully vaccinated. You can still get sick or die from COVID-19 after you’re vaccinated. But as we’ve seen time and again, vaccines offer great protection. 

Vaccinated Pierce County residents are:

  • 3 times less likely to be infected with COVID-19.
  • 9 times less likely to be hospitalized.
  • 8 times less likely to die.

Next, everyone in our family who is eligible for a booster will get one at least 2 weeks before we gather. Boosters offer protection against Omicron and anyone 16 years and older should get one. 

We have 2 children under 5 years old who aren’t yet eligible for a vaccine. We also have many elderly family members who risk more severe disease. We all wear masks in public, wash hands frequently, and avoid crowded indoor spaces. 

But to stay extra safe, we decided to take the additional step to get tested before we get together. 

2 days before we gather, everyone will take a test. Pierce County has many options for COVID-19 testing. At-home antigen (rapid) test kits come with 2 tests per kit. PCR tests take 24-48 hours for results and are free. You can find at home rapid test kits or PCR test in Pierce County at tpchd.org/gettested.

If anyone tests positive, they will need to stay away this year. We will fix them a plate, connect via video call, and look forward to seeing them in-person soon. They’ll need to isolate and watch for symptoms. As a reminder, the most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, feeling overly tired, loss of smell and trouble breathing. You don’t need to have all 5. One symptom is enough for concern. 

To be sure nobody brings COVID-19 to Grandma or the little ones, we will all take a rapid test on the morning we get together. Everyone will test, even those who were negative at the beginning of the week. Those who test negative can go the party and enjoy. 

This is our family’s plan. No plan is foolproof and any gathering can bring risks. Still, we’ve decided this works for us. I hope it helps you, your family, and friends gather and enjoy the special season. 

Find your dose.

Of course, if you haven’t been vaccinated yet, now’s the time! Find your COVID-19 vaccine today at tpchd.org/vaxtothefuture. Everyone 5 and older is eligible. If you need a ride to an appointment or can’t easily leave your home, we can help! Call us at (253) 649-1412, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday.

And always remember these tips help stop the spread of COVID-19.

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A family gathering around the table celebrating safely.