As COVID-19 vaccination rates grow, families are starting to envision an end to our social isolation, especially from grandparents itching to see – and hug – their grandkids. With Passover starting later this month, the question is: What can we safely do when some, if not all, of the adults in a family have received at least one dose of vaccine?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week provided some answers:
• Fully vaccinated people can visit indoors with other fully vaccinated people, without masks and without social distancing.
• Fully vaccinated people can visit indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household without masks and without social distancing, but only if everyone from the unvaccinated household is at low risk of severe disease.
• Fully vaccinated people do not need to quarantine or get tested if they’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19 as long as they do not experience any symptoms.
• In public settings, fully vaccinated people should continue to wear masks and watch their distance from others.
It’s important to note that a person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required vaccination shot.
So, with Passover right around the corner, how can we safely enjoy holidays and other small gatherings?
Those new guidelines provide some direction, but not all the answers, especially if we want to gather with more than one other household and/or if we want to gather with unvaccinated friends and family who may be at higher risk for severe disease. We also need to be aware that the vaccine still hasn’t been approved for minors.
If your holiday plans fall into the gray zone not outlined by the CDC guidelines, the safest way to celebrate Passover is virtually. While COVID-19 numbers have improved, the last thing we want to see is another spike because of complacency. If there are any questions or concerns, families celebrating together should maintain social distancing and continue wearing masks.
If we’re lucky, the end of March will bring warm enough weather to allow families to hold seders outside, where the risk of spreading COVID-19 is significantly reduced. However, we all know there are no weather guarantees in Greater Cleveland. It’s just as likely to be in the 30s and raining or snowing as it is to be in the 50s or 60s. So our best option lies with limiting the number of in-person guests even after some are vaccinated. For out-of-town travelers, it’s safest to try quarantining for two weeks prior and/or getting tested for COVID-19 just before making the trip.
With the vaccine providing so much hope and potential freedom, it’s a difficult time to stay vigilant. But we must, so we can keep friends and family safe.
Let’s ensure the only plagues we encounter at Passover are the ones in the haggadah.
Dr. Laura Shefner writes about pediatric care for the Cleveland Jewish News. She is a pediatrician at The MetroHealth System and practices in Beachwood and Parma.