This year end and holiday season, as we make our final decisions on whom to see, when, and in what circumstances, we find ourselves immersed in yet another battle between conflicting emotions and human traits. Among them all, the desire to be with others and rational apprehension, or caution, seem to stand out time and time again. Having exercised my medical profession for the past 25 years, most especially in occupational medicine, and with a large circle of family and friends who are on my mind especially at this time of year, here’s my six-step checklist on how you, your family, friends, and loved ones can stay healthy and safe this holiday season.
- Vaccination. Vaccination continues to be one of the most effective ways to protect families, communities and ourselves against COVID-19. According to Provincial Public Health, authorized COVID-19 vaccines can prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death. Booking an appointment for your first, second or booster dose is an important first step. To find locations to book your vaccine, check your provincial immunization booking site Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Yukon).
- Test at home. Consider using a rapid antigen test to test yourself in the comfort of your own home prior to any gatherings in-line with local health regulations. Using Health Canada-approved rapid antigen test kits, you can receive results in 15-30 minutes. According to health experts, a rapid test produces correct results 75 to 90 per cent of the time. An interesting fact: if you test positive using a rapid antigen kit it is almost 100 per cent accurate. This means you should follow guidelines and quarantine right away; but you will need to get a PCR test through public health to confirm the rapid test result.
- Wear a mask. Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth can help stop transmission and save lives. Consider wearing a mask in indoor public spaces or in crowded outdoor spaces even if you are vaccinated.
- Social distancing and reduced gatherings. The best way to practice social distancing is to avoid close contact with others and gatherings with large crowds. When around other people, be very prudent about handshaking, hugging and other types of greetings that involve close contact.
- Air purifications and ventilation. Health experts acknowledge that COVID-19 can be spread through the air and not just transmitted through droplets as originally thought. Be sure to ensure your home is properly ventilated or that you can filter the air in your home more often. This can be done by opening windows or using a certified air filtration system.
- Limit travel. As cases continue to rise, consider limiting non-essential international travel. The Canadian government has recently advised Canadians against non-essential travel abroad as Omicron spreads worldwide. Check the Government of Canada travel advisory page for more information as the situation changes.
Most importantly, continue to follow the recommendations of your local public health unit. While restrictions and precautions apply, it shouldn’t have to prevent you from being present in the lives of loved ones this holiday season, especially with the use of rapid antigen tests.
Launched in 2021, COVIDdetect is one of the most comprehensive DIY/at-home testing services for businesses and consumers. COVIDdetect combines Health Canada-approved COVID-19 rapid antigen test kits with an easy-to-use web-based software. The software platform is the next evolution in COVID-19 testing, medical surveillance, vaccination tracking, online education and training that enables participants to perform Do-it-Yourself (DIY) testing anywhere, anytime. COVIDdetect is also available as a stand-alone service or part of an onsite or in-clinic program. For more information, visit COVIDdetect.ca. COVIDdetect is a brand of DriverCheck.
Dr. Jonathan W. Davids is Corporate Medical Director for DriverCheck, a leader in occupational medical testing. Info at coviddetect.ca