The best holidays are COVID-free: How to celebrate safely

With the holiday season fast approaching and millions of Americans now vaccinated against COVID-19, celebrations could look vastly different compared to last year. 

Last year, the predominant public health advice before Thanksgiving and other holiday gatherings was simply: don’t go, but this year’s festivities can actually look more "normal." Americans who do decide to travel and attend holiday gatherings are being asked to take some precautions due to the high level of the delta variant.

Follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations to stay safe:

  • Fully vaccinate to protect high-risk individuals and those not yet eligible for vaccination.
  • Protect children and those around them by vaccinating children (5+ years).
  • Get a booster shot when eligible
  • Wear a well-fitting mask for large indoor gatherings and when with high-risk individuals.
  • Traveling? Plan and prepare for a COVID-safe trip
  • Traveling internationally? Know your destination’s vaccination requirements.
  • Don’t travel if you’re sick.

"There is no better gift you can give yourself and those around you than to be healthy and COVID-free," said Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes. "Use the precautionary measures we know work so you can celebrate safely."

Get "boosted" to ensure a safe holiday – and don’t forget the kids!

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 booster shots to all U.S. adults, the companies announced Friday, pending approval from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Protecting those at high risk of infection with boosters and third doses is critical to minimizing the spread, especially during the holidays. Boosters are recommended six months after the second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and two months after the one-shot Johnson & Johnson.

It takes two weeks for the vaccine (including boosters, third doses) to provide maximum efficacy. Based on that timeline, here’s when the first doses must be administered to achieve full vaccination status in time for the holidays:


  • Nov. 20- Pfizer
  • Dec. 11- Johnson & Johnson


  • Nov. 22- Pfizer
  • Dec. 13- Johnson & Johnson

New Year’s Day

  • Nov. 20 - Moderna
  • Nov. 27 – Pfizer
  • Dec. 18 – Johnson & Johnson

Fully vaccinated individuals are free to choose the vaccine used for their booster shot and "mix and match" vaccines. Some people may prefer to repeat their original vaccine type; others may want to get a different booster.

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