County issues COVID guidance for holiday travel, gatherings

By Katherine Minkiewicz-Martine, Staff Writer, SoCoNews, November 10, 2021

The County of Sonoma released guidance Nov. 8 regarding COVID-19 and holiday gatherings and travel, stating that people planning to travel or gather for the holidays should prepare COVID-related documentation now as required by some destinations and airlines.

The county, citing guidance recently issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (), is urging unvaccinated people who want to gather or travel for Thanksgiving to get immunized. It is recommended that people who aren’t vaccinated should avoid holiday-related travel and gatherings.

“There is still time for you to get vaccinated before the holidays, but you need to act quickly,” Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase said in a statement. “Getting vaccinated now is the best way to protect you, your family and your friends from becoming infected with COVID-19. We do not want to see another surge in cases like we witnessed last year over the holidays. Now that safe and effective vaccines are widely available, we can prevent the heartbreaking suffering and death that so many endured last year.”

It takes two weeks to become fully protected against COVID-19 after receiving the single-dose Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine or after receiving a second dose of the two-shot Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. Doses of the Pfizer vaccine are issued 21 days apart and doses of the Moderna vaccine are issued 28 days apart.

The CDC recommends everyone 5 and older receive a COVID-19 vaccine approved for their age group by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“All three vaccines approved by the FDA are safe and effective, dramatically reducing the risk of serious illness and death,” reads the county press release.

Last week, children aged 5 to 11 became eligible for a pediatric dose of the Pfizer vaccine and doses for young children are now available in Sonoma County, initially prioritized for populations at greatest risk of complications from COVID.

To find a dose, parents are encouraged to reach out to their pediatrician or local pharmacy. Vaccination clinics will also be set up at schools serving populations without easy or affordable access to health care. For information, visit the Sonoma County Office of Education website: https://www.scoe.org/pub/htdocs/school_staff_immunization.html

Most clinics and pharmacies will accept walk-ins from people 12 and older seeking a first or second dose. Residents can find information about vaccine clinics and how to make an appointment through the county’s vaccine clinic page (https://socoemergency.org/emergency/novel-coronavirus/vaccine-information/clinics/) or through myturn.ca.gov.(http://myturn.ca.gov/) Residents who need help making an appointment can call the county COVID-19 hotline at 707-565-4667.

Unvaccinated people should continue to wear a mask at all times when indoors and should maintain social distancing of six feet when meeting with people outside of their immediate family. Masks should be at least two-ply, preferable three-ply, and should be worn over the nose and mouth.

Regardless of vaccination status, people should wear a mask while indoors in public places. Everyone, even people who are fully vaccinated, is required to wear a mask on public transportation and follow international travel recommendations (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/international-travel-during-covid19.html).

If you are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19, do not travel, host or attend social gatherings. The county recommends people get tested for COVID-19 if they’re having any COVID symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Following a holiday gathering or travel, folks should monitor for symptoms for 14 days, paying close attention to days three to seven, the timeframe when people are most likely to develop symptoms.

“Some destinations and events require a COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination. Research the requirements of your destination or event now to ensure you are prepared. Arriving at a gate without acceptable test results can cost you time and frustration and may result in you missing your flight or event. Not all COVID-19 test providers are approved for travel testing or can guarantee test results in time for your travel or event,” according to the press release.

You can view CDC guidance on travel here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html

This article was produced by SoCoNews. See more news at soconews.org