It’s time to start talking with family about COVID and the holidays


DENVER (KDVR) — Local health experts say that in the first week of October, it could be time to start having holiday discussions about COVID-19 with your family and extended family.

“If you decide you’re hosting and your rules are ‘no one comes unless you’re vaccinated’ and have no symptoms, then that should be the rule,” Dr. Michelle Barron, the senior medical director of infection prevention at UCHealth, said.

Barron said even though it’s important to have these conversations with family, there are still several unknowns on what lies ahead for the next few months with COVID. She said the biggest worries are surges and variants.

“I may even tell you in a few months, don’t go anywhere if the rates are really high,” Barron said.

The CDC recently put a list of holiday gathering guidelines and then took them down from their website after feedback and response from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the president.

At the end of the month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to have a meeting addressing the COVID vaccine for children between the ages of 5 to 11 years.

Barron said she hopes it’s approved and more children are being able to be vaccinated prior to traveling for Thanksgiving.

“I think understanding where individuals are and being understanding is most important,” Dr. Liz Chamberlain, a licensed psychologist at the CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, said.

Chamberlain said it’s important — no matter your opinion on the vaccine or COVID overall — to work to be understanding of how your family members are handling the pandemic.

“People are worried about conflict and if they are going to travel someplace and what are those boundaries are,” Chamberlain said.

She said this year is a better year to feel a sense of normalcy because we do have vaccines and know that masks work. But she said it’s OK to set boundaries if families want to host for the holidays.

“You can mention things like: ‘I would really love to see you. How about we gather outside or virtually?’ Or, ‘I would like to meet next year instead of this year,’” Chamberlain said.

The CDC said they are working on holiday guidelines and they could be posted soon.

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