Thanksgiving Gathering Tips: Vaccination in Asian Communities Still Important as We Enter Holiday Season
Vaccines, Other Prevention Measures, Slow the Spread of Winter Viruses, Including Flu and COVID-19 to Protect Health and Well-Being
SACRAMENTO – Winter is a cherished time for gatherings with family and friends, filled with celebrations and traditions that hold profound significance in Asian cultures. From Thanksgiving and Diwali to Japanese New Year and Chinese New Year, these intergenerational connections are vital to our mental and emotional well-being. However, the approaching winter also brings an increased risk of respiratory viruses, including influenza (flu), RSV and COVID-19, which can disrupt these cherished gatherings and pose severe health risks to those who are most vulnerable.
“It is important to encourage community members, especially those at high risk, to prioritize vaccination. This includes our beloved elders, who are not only already at an increased risk of severe illness but have greater exposure if they live in multigenerational households with young kids or several people working outside the home. Pregnant individuals are also vulnerable and need better protection, as pregnancy heightens the risk of severe illness. Those with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems should consider vaccination a top priority,” said Dr. Rohan Radhakrishna, Chief Equity Officer of the California Department of Public Health.
Immunization remains one of the most effective tools against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths caused by winter respiratory viruses. The updated COVID-19 vaccine is especially important as it helps prevent severe illness from newer COVID-19 variants. For most individuals, only a single dose is needed, while children under 5 years need at least two doses for optimal protection. You can also get the flu shot at the same time.
Immunization against RSV is also available for older adults, pregnant individuals and newborn infants.
COVID-19 vaccines continue to be covered through most health insurance plans, including Medi-Cal and regular health care providers. For those who are uninsured or underinsured, vaccines can be accessed through the Center for Disease Control’s Bridge Access program and the Vaccines For Children program, available via the county’s health department or community clinics. Free tests and medications to treat COVID-19 infection are also readily available.
In addition to vaccination, adopting other preventive measures can help protect families and communities. This includes masking, proper indoor ventilation, hand hygiene, staying home when feeling sick and testing for flu and COVID-19 if you have symptoms, and seeking medication if you test positive.
For more prevention tips, visit cdph.ca.gov.