The CDC and DHEC release new guidelines for celebrating the holidays safely

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) released new guidelines for celebrating the holidays safely.

Medical experts in the Lowcountry say the landscape for holidays has changed for 2021, thanks to vaccines. 

Dr. Valerie Scott, a Family Medicine Physician with Roper St. Francis Physician Partners said last year, the vaccines weren’t available and many were nervous about getting together with family, “rightfully so”. Dr. Scott said now if you and your whole family are vaccinated it creates a safer gathering, but of course with restrictions.

Now I still wouldn’t have 50 people over, you want to limit the number of people, and if you are someone with particularly high risk, you may want to consider just getting together with one or two people. 

Dr. Valerie Scott, Family Medicine, Roper St. Francis 

The concern, according to Dr. Scott, comes from mixing unvaccinated people with those who are vaccinated. She said while the topic has unfortunately gotten sticky, she said asking others about their vaccine status is simply “just medicine”. Even more, it’s important to know ahead of gatherings with small children under 12, as they cannot be currently vaccinated.

In accordance with the CDC and DHEC’s guidance, it is best to have any gatherings outdoors if possible. If indoors, the guidance says to continue to wear a mask, social distance, and keep up with proper hand hygiene. Even those who are fully vaccinated should wear a mask in public indoor settings if the community has a high transmission rate.

As for travel, if you are not fully vaccinated the CDC recommends getting tested 1-3 days before your trip and 3-5 days after travel. If you are vaccinated and plan to visit a family member who is more susceptible to the virus, Dr. Scott recommends quarantining and testing ahead of traveling.

Those with DHEC state to not attend social gatherings if you have any symptoms or have tested positive in the last 10 days or if you have been exposed to an individual with COVID-19 and were instructed to quarantine in the last 14 days. 

To avoid another post-holiday surge in patients, DHEC is suggesting those eligible get vaccinated for both COVID-19 and the flu. When getting the COVID-19 vaccine, DHEC said it’s important to remember to schedule your vaccine a few weeks ahead of the holidays as it takes a couple of weeks to achieve full protection.

The CDC is also reminding that while they promote the usage of a mask, they say to not put a mask on children younger than 2 years old.

For more on the DHEC guidance, click here.

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