Friday, November 19, 2021

The best holidays are COVID-free

When gathering for the holidays, Austin Public Health (APH) reminds everyone the best way to minimize the risk of COVID-19 is to make sure all eligible household members are fully vaccinated, especially when multiple generations plan to be together.

“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.”

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.

When traveling, it’s important to know how quickly the virus is spreading in your own community and your destination. This information can be used to take correct precautions during your trip. For example, if you are traveling to an area with a high community transmission rate, you will want to mask and maintain social distance in groups, especially if you are unsure of others’ vaccination status.

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

Protecting those at high risk of infection with boosters and third doses is critical to minimizing the spread, especially during the holidays. Studies increasingly show vaccines’ protection wanes over time; boosters are recommended six months after the second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and two months after the one-shot Johnson & Johnson.

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

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

Children 5-11 years of age are now eligible for vaccination. Children proved to be especially vulnerable to hospitalization and even death from the Delta variant. Pediatric vaccinations are widely available through APH and its vaccine partners, including pharmacies and medical offices. Only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for pediatric vaccinations.

“We need to remember that COVID kills, devastating families,” said Interim Public Health Director Adrienne Sturrup. “As a community, we have the power to prevent tragedy and protect our families  by vaccinating, masking, testing and staying home when sick.”

Sniffles? Get Tested!

It’s easy to confuse COVID-19 symptoms with those of the flu and allergies. Stay safe and get tested, especially prior to traveling and gathering with high-risk individuals. Testing is available through home testing kits and providers throughout the community. APH offers COVID-19 testing free of charge--with or without an appointment--for the homebound and at its clinic locations. Schedule online at or by calling 3-1-1 or 512-974-2000. As with all APH testing sites, the services are free.

Get Vaccinated!

COVID-19 vaccinations continue to prove extremely effective at protecting those who have completed the initial two doses of Moderna and Pfizer and the single dose of Johnson & Johnson, as well as the recommended booster and third shots for high-risk individuals whose immunity is decreasing.

COVID-19 vaccinations are free and require neither identification nor insurance. Residents can locate providers in their area using ( in Spanish), or they can text their zip code to 438829 (822862 in Spanish) to find a nearby clinic.
For additional business guidance, visit for recommendations to help prioritize the well-being of employees and customers.    

For additional COVID-19 information and updates, visit

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