COVID-19 and the holidays: Yahoo News Explains

The holiday season is upon us and many fully vaccinated Americans are excited to gather with friends and loved ones they may not have seen in person since the beginning of the pandemic. However, with the continuing spread of COVID-19, things aren’t yet back to normal. Yahoo News explains what you should know before making your holiday plans.

Video transcript

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- The holidays are coming, a time for family and friends to gather together, exchange heartfelt gifts, share in each other's warmth, and are we sure we should be doing this?

- COVID along with the flu and common cold thrive in colder months when we tend to spend more time inside.

- As we head into the holidays, experts say the risk is still very real.

- Infectious disease experts worried about another winter surge.

- Another possible winter surge.

- Overworked hospital teams will be doing even more.

- My world is still fully COVID.

- But we can gather for Christmas or it's just too soon to tell?

ANTHONY FAUCI: You know, Margaret, it's just too soon to tell.

- The COVID-19 pandemic is still going on, but there's something that could mean the difference between spending the holidays with loved ones or home alone.

- There's still time to prevent another outbreak this holiday season.

- Vaccination is this wonderful tool that we have in our toolbox.

ANTHONY FAUCI: Let's just get as many people vaccinated as we possibly can.

- As of the first week of November, just under 70% of Americans age 12 and over are fully vaccinated, that means it's safe for them and other fully vaccinated people to get together indoors without masks. However, because no vaccine is 100% effective there's still a chance you could get infected. If you think you'll end up in a large crowd indoors say, shopping for gifts at a religious service or at restaurants, concerts, movies, or any other place you might want to go during the holidays, if vaccines aren't required there, it's a good idea to wear a mask.

So what about kids younger than 12? Well, the FDA has given the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine an emergency use authorization for children ages 5 to 11. And it became widely available on November 8.

But here's the rub, after the first dose they'll need to wait three weeks to get a second and then another two weeks to be considered fully vaccinated. That means kids ages 5 to 11 won't be fully vaccinated by Thanksgiving, and only those who receive their first doses by November 11th will be able to gather without masks for the last few days of Hanukkah. The deadline for kids to receive their first dose to make it in time for Christmas morning is November 20. So the clock is ticking.

And finally, what about unvaccinated relatives? Well, the best option is for them to get the vaccine as soon as possible. Otherwise, short of wearing masks around the dinner table, many experts believe it may be time to revise your guest list.

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