Coronavirus: CDC issues new 2021 holiday COVID-19 guidance

New holiday COVID-19 guidance issued Friday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention boils down to two directives: get vaccinated and wear masks during gatherings when warranted.

The latest holiday guidelines are less strict - and detailed - than those issued for 2020, due primarily to the widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines, USA Today reported.

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“Because many generations tend to gather to celebrate holidays, the best way to minimize COVID-19 risk and keep your family and friends safer is to get vaccinated if you’re eligible,” the CDC stated in its updated guidance for the 2021 holidays.

Specifically, the agency recommended social distancing and wearing masks indoors in areas with high or substantial infection transmissions, regardless of vaccination status, the outlet reported.

Meanwhile, people who will attend holiday gatherings with children who are too young to be vaccinated are urged to get vaccinated and to ensure all those who are eligible to be vaccinated receive one in order to protect those youngsters. U.S. children who are 11 years old or younger are not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to the CDC, unvaccinated adults are more than six times more likely to test positive for the virus and more than 11 times more likely to die from it compared with those who are fully vaccinated.

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Specific to holiday gatherings, the CDC advised that it is generally safer to gather outdoors than indoors and recommended that unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated people who are 2 years old or older wear well-fitting masks over the mouth and nose. Anyone with a weakened immune system is encouraged to wear a mask when gathering, regardless of the area’s transmissibility rate.

Again, the agency urged even fully vaccinated people to wear masks indoors in areas with “substantial to high transmission rates,” and directed unvaccinated travelers or those not fully vaccinated to its domestic and international travel recommendations targeting those groups.

In September, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that the U.S. could be facing another “dark” winter, but one that is avoidable if vaccinations are sought.

“If we don’t get people vaccinated who need to be vaccinated, and we get that conflating with an influenza season, we could have a dark, bad winter,” Fauci told CBS News’ Major Garrett. “...We could also avoid a dark, bad winter if we get people vaccinated to a very high degree over the next several weeks to a month or two.”

The CDC also recommended getting a seasonal flu shot and focusing on healthy eating and getting enough sleep to help “prevent chronic disease,” USA Today reported.

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