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Gathering for the Holidays? CDC Says COVID Vaccinations Are Key for a Safe Celebration

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Family members stand around a table with many Thanksgiving dishes.
The Broughton family prepares for their dinner prayers during a gathering on Nov. 26, 2020, in Los Angeles.  (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Following confusion earlier this month on how the country should safely celebrate the holidays, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released its updated guidance around gatherings and traveling amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the new guidance issued Friday, the CDC says the best way to safely celebrate the holiday season is by being vaccinated (if eligible) against the coronavirus.

"Protect those not yet eligible for vaccination such as young children by getting yourself and other eligible people around them vaccinated," the CDC said on its website.

Health officials said that having every person in attendance vaccinated against the virus is particularly important for protecting those who can't get a shot, such as children under 12.

The CDC recommends that those who aren't fully vaccinated delay their travel plans. For those who do travel, the CDC offers recommendations for domestic or international travelers.

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In addition, the CDC suggests that those who aren't fully vaccinated wear well-fitting masks over the nose and mouth if in public indoor settings. It says outdoor celebrations, if possible, are recommended instead of indoor ones.

If in an outdoor setting, those who are vaccinated do not need to wear a mask, unless they are in areas with a high number of COVID-19 cases.

"By working together, we can enjoy safer holidays, travel, and protect our own health as well as the health of our family and friends," the CDC said.

Just this week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said that trick-or-treating can resume this Halloween, should those who are fully vaccinated feel comfortable doing so.

"I think that, particularly if you're vaccinated, you can get out there and enjoy it," Fauci told CNN's "State of the Union."

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics website, healthychildren.org, officials recommend that families who decide on outdoor trick-or-treating do so in small groups.

When it comes to handing out candy, the website says to sit outside and line up individually prepackaged treats for children to take, including nonedible treats for those with food allergies.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit npr.org.

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