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CDC Chief: Why I Get My Family Vaxxed and Tested Before Holiday Travel

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LA Post: CDC Chief: Why I Get My Family Vaxxed and Tested Before Holiday Travel
Soren Fallwell
November 10, 2023

As Thanksgiving approaches, Dr. Mandy Cohen, director of the CDC, knows some Americans remain wary of public health guidance post-pandemic. But she hopes insights into her own family's precautions will build trust.

Beyond leading the CDC, Cohen is a doctor and parent of two young daughters. She wants Americans to know that recommendations she makes professionally are the same ones she follows personally to keep her family safe.

"I wouldn't recommend something for the American people that I wouldn't recommend for my own family," Cohen told Yahoo Life. Her transparency aims to reinforce best health practices amid holiday travel.

Cohen says she, her husband and daughters, ages 9 and 11, are fully vaccinated against COVID and flu this season. Her elderly parents have received their shots as well. "I hope people can hear that and get to know me as a person," Cohen said, noting her medical and parental perspectives inform CDC guidance.

Cohen also recommended Americans take the following common sense precautions leading up to holiday gatherings:

  • Stay home if sick to avoid spreading illness
  • Get tested to identify and treat any infections
  • Order free rapid tests to bring for holiday trips

Beyond vaccination, Cohen advises travelers follow layers of protection learned during COVID:

  • Wash hands frequently to avoid germ transmission
  • Open windows and doors to maximize ventilation and air circulation
  • Consider masks in crowded indoor settings like airports
  • Assess personal risks before deciding on precautions

Those most vulnerable, like elderly and immunocompromised people, should take extra care. But Cohen said even healthy younger adults can benefit from updated COVID shots.

Some vaccinated, previously infected people question the updated COVID booster's necessity. But Cohen cited three key reasons to get the new shot:

  1. It targets the virus's latest mutations.
  2. Protection from prior immunity wanes over time.
  3. It further reduces long COVID risks.

Though older individuals face the gravest outcomes, long COVID can affect anyone post-infection. The updated vaccine provides optimal shielding. Beyond vaccination, Cohen recommends several daily measures to keep children healthy:

  • Prioritize sleep, nutrition and safe environments
  • Seek pediatrician guidance if illness occurs
  • Get tested to enable prompt, tailored treatment

While disappointed by low vaccine rates so far, Cohen hopes more Americans will get immunized to limit holiday virus spread. "We have the power to shape what the future brings," she said.

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