Should You Wear A Mask At Family Gatherings This Holiday Season?

The second holiday season of the pandemic is coming up quickly. Thankfully, the number of vaccinated people in the United States is going up — especially now that children are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 196.4 million people in the United States are fully vaccinated, nearly 60% of the country, as of this writing. In addition, another 36.1 people have received a booster shot. 

Still, the CDC recommends taking certain safety precautions, such as protecting young children by getting vaccinated. Kids under the age of 5 are not yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. The CDC asserts that it is safer to have your family gatherings outside, if possible. Poorly ventilated spaces and crowds should be avoided. If you have COVID-19 symptoms or are sick, do not go visit family this holiday season. Instead, stay home, get tested, and get well. But what about masks — do you need to wear one when gathering with your family this holiday season?

You may need to wear a mask

According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, you should be able to enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday without masks as long as you and your family are fully vaccinated (via CNN). As of this writing, the definition of being "fully vaccinated" does not yet include booster shots. However, you should get a booster shot now that all are eligible. 

The biggest concern is those who aren't vaccinated — the more unvaccinated people there are, the more family members are at risk. If you're traveling or will be around family members who are not vaccinated — or if you're unsure of their vaccination status – you should take precautions like wearing a mask and social distancing.

If you are not yet vaccinated, Dr. Fauci advised, "Get vaccinated and you can enjoy the holidays very easily. And if you're not, please be careful" (via CNN). If you will not be vaccinated by Thanksgiving, Fauci advised getting tested for COVID-19. However, he clarified that it is "not a substitute for getting vaccinated." He added, "Get yourself vaccinated and you can continue to enjoy interactions with your family and others."