WASHINGTON (SBG) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made a reversal Monday on its holiday gathering guidance, leading to some confusion among Americans and medical experts.
On Friday, the CDC issued an update on how Americans should safely celebrate the upcoming holiday season. It included much of the same recommendations issued last year, including opting for virtual celebrations and avoiding in-person gatherings. This, as more than half of the country is now considered fully vaccinated from the coronavirus.
“Telling everyone in 2021 that the only way to celebrate Christmas safely is virtually really doesn't tell the vaccinated that there was any kind of reward for being vaccinated,” said Dr. Monica Gandhi, Professor of Medicine and Associate Division Chief of Infectious Diseases at the University of California, San Francisco.
Dr. Gandhi believes the CDC has missed the mark on some important public health messaging.
“We have to work on optimism, we have to work on messaging that these vaccines get you back to normal and that actually sounded very much like we had not just spent the whole last year trying to get people vaccines," said Dr. Gandhi.
But, just three days after issuing its updated guidance, The National Desk discovered that the CDC removed the information from its website, blaming the error on a computer glitch.
The Fact Check team reached out to the CDC to clarify its holiday guidance, and after a few phone calls got this response by email:
“The content is in the process of being updated by CDC to reflect current guidance ahead of this holiday season. The page had a technical update on Friday, but doesn’t reflect the CDC’s guidance ahead of this upcoming holiday season. CDC will share additional guidance soon,” said Kristen Nordlund, CDC Public Affairs.
The Fact Check team followed up with Nordlund over the phone a few hours later to ensure that it was clear; the CDC did not mean to publish any holiday guidance.
Dr. Anand Parekh is a former deputy assistant secretary for Health and Human Services and now acts as the chief medical adviser for the Bipartisan Policy Center.
When asked about holiday travel, he said, “that if you’re vaccinated, you don’t need to get tested before and after travel unless you have a known exposure to someone with COVID-19,” and that “if you're at home and everyone is living in the same household, you certainly don't need to wear masks.”
He noted that families coming from all across the country and those hosting larger gatherings should take precautions for the vulnerable and unvaccinated.
“The last thing that we want to do is inadvertently get any of our family members, sick, so I think that would be the cautious thing to do,” said Dr. Parekh.
More than 185 million Americans are now considered fully vaccinated. Many are now looking forward to enjoying the holidays with loved ones. As cases of COVID-19 start to decline over the last month, that’s coming closer to being a safe reality.
Dr. Monica Gandhi hopes “that we will see with holiday guidance is that for vaccinated people, really, this is the time to come back together. It's been sometimes two years before people have seen each other.”