Nov 22, 2017, 10:03:12 AM CST Dec 3, 2021, 12:36:49 PM CST

4 hidden spots for holiday germs

Stay healthy during the holidays with these tips to prevent catching and spreading germs

Family shopping with their two young daughters Family shopping with their two young daughters

Presents are not the only thing hiding during the holiday season. With more travel, parties, family and shopping, germs hide out and often show up uninvited to spread contagious illnesses that can put a damper on holiday fun.

The most common hiding spots for germs during the holiday season often include places and activities that involve their primary mode of transmission: people. Luckily, there are simple ways to prevent getting sick.

Here are four places and activities that can carry an increased risk for germs and how you can help keep your family healthy and happy this holiday season.  

1. Family gatherings

There's nothing better than spending time with people you love. However, if you are sick, it’s best to stay home. If you have COVID‑19 or think you may have COVID-19, stay home unless you need medical care.  

One of the best defenses against sharing and picking up germs is the easiest one – practicing good hand hygiene. Encourage your child to wash their hands properly by lathering soap for at least 20 seconds (suggest they sing a song while they wash!). Hand sanitizer is another great option, especially if you are on the go.

2. Travel

Travel takes an uptick over the holidays, and germs love to hitch a ride. Germs don't restrict themselves to just the enclosed area of a plane, car or train, either. They hang out in places like bathrooms, doorknobs, handrails, ticket kiosks and security bins in airports, rest areas and gas stations along the way. Proper hand hygiene is the best way you can help prevent spreading germs.

Make sure to get flu shots before you hit the road, too. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older. Everyone in your household who is eligible should become fully vaccinated against COVID‑19 before holiday travel. See more guidance about how to travel safely during COVID‑19.

3. Shopping

Whether you and the kids are at the grocery store filling the cart with ingredients for holiday cookies or whittling down your gift-shopping list, germs are amongst the hustle and bustle of the crowds. With hands and fingers touching shopping carts, payment keypads, handrails and money, hand washing is vital to keeping germs at bay. Consider using a cover or blanket when placing your child in a cart. Sanitizing wipes and gels can also reduce the risk of picking up and spreading germs when you are on the go.

4. Visiting Santa

No one spreads good cheer like Santa. But getting a photo in the lap that has held hundreds of other kids can also mean unwittingly spreading and picking up unwanted germs, too. During COVID-19, it may be best to skip this holiday tradition, especially if you have a young child that is not vaccinated against COVID‑19. Children 5 and older are now eligible to get vaccinated.

The reality is germs are everywhere. Families should take precautions to prevent illness, such as getting an annual flu vaccine, vaccinating all eligible children for COVID-19 and practicing good hand hygiene.

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You can also videoconference with a health care provider 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with Virtual Visit by Children's Health Virtual Care. Learn more and download the Virtual Visit app today.

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