This year's holiday season looks different compared to 2020. The country is nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, but now vaccines are available for anyone five years and older. Plus, the FDA expanded the use of booster shots of both vaccines to all adults.
"Recently, the boosters were just approved for everyone, not just high-risk individuals, but certainly those at highest risk, including the elderly, should be getting their booster shot," explained Dr. John Zweifler, with the Fresno County Health Department.
According to Dr. Zweifler, getting vaccinated is the best way to stay safe and healthy during the holidays.
On Tuesday morning at UCSF Fresno, several cars went through the drive-thru clinic for either testing or vaccinations ahead of the holidays.
Paula Loyd was one of a dozen people who rolled their sleeves up. She received her booster shot.
"I'm off for the week, so I figured it was a good time to do it now, just in case I get a reaction to it or something," said Loyd.
She added that she's excited to be with family again this Thanksgiving, and now with the booster, it's a much different feeling than last year.
"I feel safe and secure," Loyd said. "It makes me feel a little bit safer."
Dr. Zweifler expects many families to spend the holidays inside due to the cold weather.
He said if you are vaccinated and know other guests are too, a mask isn't necessary, but there is still a risk of breakthrough cases.
He suggested a few tips in order to create a safer environment.
"Make sure there's good ventilation," he said. "Keep the windows open, turn the fans on, turn on the ventilator and consider using a HEPA filter."
For those leaving the Valley or the state for the holidays, Dr. Zweifler asks people to be mindful of the vaccination rates and COVID cases of where they're heading.
"We're seeing an increase in case rates in a number of states around the country, in the southwest, as well as the upper Midwest," he explained.
Fresno County health leaders said they expect a surge in COVID cases following the holidays but hope residents enjoy the season while still taking extra precautions.