Home COVID-19 tests and appropriate masks: How to make holiday meetings in 2021 safer

With the holiday season of 2021 fast approaching, families are discussing how to safely gather in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At this time last year, Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech recently announced that their vaccine was 90% effective in preventing the disease, although vaccinations by health care workers and other members of the first priority group will not begin until December.

THE PRINCESS MAY NOT COME TO THE CITY ABOUT YOU, THANKS TO COVID

Now, more than 194 million Americans have been fully vaccinated and millions of children ages 5-11 have been allowed to get their shots last week.

The White House said Wednesday that approximately 900,000 children in that age group will have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in their first week of eligibility and approximately 700,000 first-time appointments are scheduled for the coming days.

While cases in the U.S. are declining, Americans can still take steps to make their meetings safe for everyone involved.

Domestic COVID-19 tests, for example, can provide a level of protection combined with vaccination.

Family video chats over Christmas

Family video chats over Christmas
(Credit: iStock)

While domestic kits are not as accurate as PCR (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) tests in hospitals and test sites, they are able to give results within minutes.

Tests are available at pharmacies without a prescription and a box containing two tests usually sells for about $ 25.

Most tests require a shoe about half an inch inside both nostrils.

Adults and adolescents can test themselves and an adult can test a child even 2 years old.

CDC GUIDELINES FOR HOLIDAYS OF 2021: HOW TO SAFELY CELEBRATE

If the test detects a virus protein in the sample, it will give a positive result.

However, some home tests will miss infections and – although rarely – erroneously indicate an infection.

One test misses about 15 out of 100 infections and gives a false positive result in about 1 in 100 people who are not infected with the virus.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that those who are and have not been vaccinated wear a well-fitting mask in public indoor environments in communities with large to high distribution and avoid poorly ventilated or crowded spaces.

Masks should not be worn on children younger than 2 years.

Those who are not yet eligible for vaccinations can be protected by vaccinating themselves and other eligible people.

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The agency has also published travel guides for domestic and international travel.

Vaccination remains the best way to protect against COVID-19.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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