November 19, 2021

Health Experts Offer Advice On COVID-19 Safety Through Holidays

With COVID-19 vaccines on the rise and kids aged five to 11 finally able to get the shot, a return to normal holiday gatherings seems closer than ever.  But local experts are still recommending caution when making those holiday plans.

Vaccine Protection

“When you do get together with family, it’s very important to make sure that everyone else around the family is vaccinated,” Edward Hospital Medical Director of Infection Control Dr. Jonathan Pinsky said.  “Especially for those who have weakened immune systems and for children who have been too young to get vaccinated, or who just got their shot and aren’t yet fully immunized, it’s very important to have a layer of vaccinated people around them.”

Even if kids aged five to 11 have gotten the first shot, they’re not out of the woods yet.

“The full protection from Pfizer vaccine doesn’t come until two weeks after you’ve had the second dose,” Pinsky said. “In that time period in between the first and second dose, you really don’t have much protection, so you have to remember to still take all the same precautions you did before you got vaccinated.”

Booster shots for adults are also an effective way to bring up immunity. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize boosters for everyone 18 and up in the coming days, according to multiple sources. As more become boosted and vaccinated, transmission chances should decline.

Other Good Practices

In the meantime, Pinsky says precautions should still be taken. Masking up in public and sticking to smaller groups is advised. If you do have a larger group for Thanksgiving, Pinsky suggests splitting into smaller tables when its time to eat. Travelers can also get tested for COVID-19 before and after traveling for early detection of the virus.

Local COVID-19 Cases Rise

DuPage County remains at a high transmission rate, and has risen in recent weeks to reach roughly 200 cases per day. Will County is similar, with a seven-day average around 200 as well.

“We’re anticipating that we might be kind of at a sustained level of relatively high activity for at least a few more months, until we see more drop offs,” DuPage County Health Department Director of Client Access Adam Forker said.

Those 19 and under have primarily driven DuPage County’s high transmission rate. That, coupled with many of those kids not yet being fully immunized, means safety should be top priority this holiday season.

“As long as the other adults are vaccinated, as long as the gatherings are as small as they can be, people are taking advantage of what they can do outdoors, people are staying home if they’re sick, washing hands, again some additional folks may choose to use masks,” Forker said.  “I just think you gotta take the combination of those safety tools to do as much as you can to make it a safe setting for those five to 11 year olds who are not fully vaccinated.”

Naperville News 17’s Casey Flanagan reports.

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