Vaccination status factor in holiday planning

Coronavirus

DENVER (KDVR) — With six weeks to go until Thanksgiving, health experts are unsure how COVID-19 will impact in-person holiday gatherings.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to release formal guidance for holiday gatherings soon. Restrictions on gathering size and travel concerns forced many Coloradans to celebrate virtually in 2020.

“We didn’t want to get together last year because my dad works in a hospital. With delta now it’s still a little shaky, but we feel a lot more comfortable because we’re all vaccinated,” Ayla Coles, who lives in Denver said.

Coles plans to travel to the Washington D.C. area to celebrate with her family in person this year.

“I’m looking forward to awkward Thanksgiving conversations in person instead of virtual where you can mute each other,” Coles said.

Dr. James Neid, director of infection prevention at Medical Center of Aurora, said the vaccine provides a much safer environment for gatherings this holiday season. 

“If you’re not vaccinated, really the situation is worse than it was a year ago in that delta is the dominant strain that is unfortunately, more infectious,” Neid said.

He said even fully vaccinated people should consider other factors when choosing to attend face-to-face holiday gatherings, like the vaccination status of other guests and whether they’re immunocompromised.

“If you’re around a bunch of children who have yet to have vaccines approved, that might guide some more safety recommendations,” Neid said.

Colorado’s COVID-19 trends make it difficult to predict what will happen with the virus in the coming months. According to state data, weekly reported cases have remained steady over the last month after a sharp spike in August. Hospitalizations are still high but appear to be plateauing.

“It’s still a highly infectious respiratory virus. It’s not gone, it’s unlikely to be gone. I sure hope that the case trends and hospitalization rates are trending down by holiday time,” Neid said.

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