Hartford Healthcare official weighs in on holiday gatherings amid COVID spike


HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The race is on for vaccines, boosters, and tests before the holidays as COVID-19 cases remain on the rise.

We all looked forward to finally getting together this holiday season, but unfortunately, we’re seeing a major uptick in COVID-19 cases throughout the country. So you may be wondering if you should cancel your plans.

Hartford held an annual toy giveaway on Saturday at UCONN’s Hartford campus. The event didn’t just include gifts, but also offered COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots for anyone ages 5 and up. Jonathan Miller and his son Jovani were in attendance this morning.

“I got a booster shot and he got his vaccine today for the first time,” Miller told WTNH.

Miller said Jovani has been “waiting to get it, he wanted it.” In addition to his vaccine, Jovani also received an early gift from Santa – an airplane model and a Marvel toy.

While optimal efficacy may not happen for two weeks, Senior System Director of Infection Prevention at Hartford Healhcare, Keith Grant, said they’ll be one step closer to being safer this holiday season.

“The minute you take the vaccine, your immune system starts working and antibodies start creating,” Grant said.

Even if you are vaccinated, partially vaccinated, boosted, or none of the three, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are surging across the country and here in Connecticut.

At the end of October, the Hartford Healthcare system was caring for about 55 COVID patients. Grant said now, they’re at more than 250 patients. Out of the hospitalizations, 20 to 30% of the patients are vaccinated, and less than 5% are boosted.

So one question remains — should you get together with family and friends this Christmas?

“I think you can,” Grant said.

Grant explained that gatherings still need to come with precautions, like testing for multiple days leading up to the event. It’s important to know everyone is vaccinated or even better, boosted, or still socially distancing and wearing face masks indoors.

“I do believe some plans are reasonably going to have to be canceled,” Grant said.

Most importantly, Grant wants you to remember to not just think about yourself, but those most vulnerable during the holiday season.

“Ensure that you’re putting special precautions to ensuring that you’re not only going to be here for this holiday, but they’ll make it to the next holiday as well.”

Many pharmacies in our area still have rapid tests in stock, and more testing clinics are opening up, including two new locations opening up this Monday in New Haven. See the New Haven locations, via New Haven Public Health, below:

To find a testing location closest to you, click here. Vaccine and booster appointments can be found here, as well as walk-up vaccine and booster clinics here.

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