Tips for Navigating the Holidays
We are all hoping for a safe visit to family and friends this holiday season. While there is no way to guarantee 100% protection from COVID, you can follow a “layered approach” to help keep yourself and those around you safe.
This is especially important if you are at higher risk of having a severe outcome from respiratory illness or are planning to get together with friends and family who may be at higher risk.
If you haven't been vaccinated, it's never too late to get the shot. Check out these resources to learn more about the vaccine: Click here to read information from the CDC about the benefits of getting vaccinated. Pregnant or breastfeeding? Learn more about the effects of the COVID vaccine here.
Get the Booster Shot
If you are already vaccinated, be sure to get your bivalent COVID booster!
Wear a Mask Indoors
Wear a mask inside when you are in public spaces, do not know the vaccination status of those around you, or spaces that are crowded or poorly ventilated. Not sure what mask is right for you? Check out our mask guide and kids mask guide to learn about the different options to protect yourself.
Ventilate Your Space
When you have visitors in your home, you can help reduce risk by adding layers of ventilation.
See our recommendations for improving the air in your home:
- Air Purifier
- DIY Air Purifier
- HVAC / Central Air System
- Running your HVAC or central air system throughout your home can act as a key layer of protection when people are visiting.
- Turn the "Fan" setting for your HVAC system to "ON" instead of "AUTO" because HVAC systems that filter air do so only when the fan is running.
- Replace the filters in your HVAC system when they begin to gray or at the recommended intervals specified in your system manual.
- Consider upgrading your air filters to a MERV-13 or higher rating. Most residential HVAC systems use a MERV-8 as default. It is very important that you check your HVAC manual or speak with an HVAC professional prior to upgrading your filters, however, because your system may not be able to handle filters with different ratings.
- Fresh Air
- Interactive Ventilation Tool
Turn on an air purifier that provides the appropriate air flow for your space. Be sure to set the air purifier on its highest setting to ensure that you are getting the full benefits of the product. You can calculate the clean air delivery rate (CADR) for your space using this tool from Harvard.
Make a DIY air purifier—often known as a Corsi-Rosenthal box or SAFEbox—if you do not have an air purifier readily available to you. These DIY options can be cheaper than a traditional air purifier but require some assembly.
Open two or more windows if it is not too cold outside. Windows that are open even just a few inches will help ensure that air is flowing and improve ventilation.
We also recommend that you use this interactive ventilation tool from the CDC, which illustrates how different layers of ventilation can reduce the risk of transmission in your home.
Test Before You Gather
Taking a COVID test before gathering with family and friends can help you identify if anyone is sick before you get together.
The CDC’s updated COVID testing guide provides advice on which tests to use in different circumstances. Our holiday testing guide discusses the tests that are available and gives tips on how soon before an event you should take each type of test.
Stay Home if You Are Sick
If you have symptoms and feel sick, avoid holiday gatherings.
Determine What Makes You Comfortable
Before you start attending events this holiday season, consider what risks you are willing to take and what risks you are not comfortable with. If you are planning to visit family members who are unvaccinated or immunocompromised, you may want to take additional precautions to ensure that you do not inadvertently spread COVID to your loved ones.
Set Clear Boundaries
Now that you have determined what you are comfortable with, you should stick to your plan. Let your family know ahead of time what your boundaries are.
Have a Back Up Plan
If you are a host or attendee, think about having a back up plan in place in case someone gets sick before your gathering. Have some containers available if you are hosting, so your attendees can pick up food if they are feeling under the weather. Then invite them to join you on a video call!