PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — We’re on your side with how you can stay safe and healthy this holiday season, which is a little different now that we have vaccines to help fight against the coronavirus.
Dr. Laura Sass, infectious diseases specialist at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, said we can gather a little more safely compared to this time last year because vaccines are available.
“Now we have the great benefit that we can start vaccinating everyone,” Sass said.
Right now, 63.3% Virginians are fully vaccinated, according to the Virginia Department of Health. Sass explains the vaccines are the best protection this holiday season.
“You don’t really want to have those at-risk family members get infected because we all had Thanksgiving turkey together. The virus’ goal is to live and it’s going to figure out how to do that. It’s going to change and figure out how it can get into new hosts.”
The vaccine helps reduce your risk of serious illness or death, though doesn’t completely prevent you from contracting the virus.
“Vaccination is the most important, and then good hand washing is also important. Make sure you try not to touch your face as much as possible. Then if you are in close proximity to someone that is unimmunized and vulnerable, they should probably wear a mask or reconsider how they want to do the holidays.”
Now, little ones 5 years old and up are eligible to get the Pfizer vaccine.
To those parents still on the fence about it, Sass said: “This vaccine is safe. It’s not the same dose, it’s actually smaller, it’s about a third smaller than what the adults in 12 and up. They wanted to make sure it was safe and effective, that’s why it took another year for us to be able to give kids those vaccines.”
She says cases at CHKD spiked in September among children, and 60 were admitted at the hospital.
“They were admitted for anything from being mildly ill to being seriously ill. All of the children that have been admitted for COVID and need to be treated for COVID have been unvaccinated. Whether they were too young or they did not get their vaccines before they were infected.”
Sass is hopeful most children will be fully vaccinated by Christmas, since the shots just received FDA and CDC approval. “Christmas will be great, Thanksgiving still be cautious. You have to use your common sense.”
She anticipates more kids will be fully vaccinated by the time Santa comes to town.
“We have the ability to get everyone immunized before Christmas, which is going to actually be wonderful.”
Other tips for a safe holiday season include spending time outside, and if you are sick, stay at home.
“Nothing is ever perfect, but the safest thing of course again is being outside. Which is sometimes doable in Hampton Roads at this time of the year and sometimes not. Still wearing masks indoors when you are in a mixed group of people that you don’t know.”