Pass the stuffing, not the sniffles: Celebrate the holidays responsibly

A child carves a turkey with the help of a parent

We are embarking on the fourth holiday season since COVID entered our lives. As we get ready to roast the turkey this week, we put together some reminders of how to celebrate responsibly with our loved ones. 

Get all your shots!

Vaccines can offer protection from getting seriously sick and spreading illness to others. Get your updated COVID vaccine, flu shot, and RSV vaccine (approved for people 60+ years old) before heading to your holiday parties this year. We provide flu shots in our clinics and are able to offer COVID shots to people who are uninsured or whose insurance doesn’t cover vaccination. Visit our website to make an appointment. You can also find more information about the vaccines in our recent blog post

Have COVID rapid home tests handy

Whether you’re not feeling well or just want to make sure you’re COVID free before heading to the family gathering– having rapid tests ready at home is key. You can pick up tests at area libraries (call ahead to check supply) or at our South Park Street or East Washington locations during business hours. You can also order free at-home tests at Every household is eligible for four free rapid tests, delivered to your home.

Stay home if you’re sick

If you test positive for COVID, stay home for at least 5 full days. If you’re feeling sick, stay home, even if your rapid home test is negative. Whether it’s cold and flu germs or COVID germs, we can all agree no one wants to pick up a virus while they’re picking up the potatoes. So, before you go, consider your coworkers, friends, and neighbors—especially babies and older adults. If you’re under the weather and absolutely must leave home, be sure to mask up.

Know before you go

Our respiratory illness dashboard can help you make informed decisions about your plans this holiday season. On the dashboard, you can find the latest trends showing how much COVID, flu, and RSV is circulating in Dane County. We update the dashboard on Thursdays.

Don’t forget about food safety

Once you know everyone is healthy and ready to celebrate the holiday together, here are some simple tips from the CDC to make sure it stays that way: 

  • Keep foods separated: Make sure meat and eggs remain separated from other foods in your fridge. You don’t want any juices leaking onto other foods before they’re prepped.
  • Cook food thoroughly: Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of food.
  • Do not eat raw dough or batter: As tempting as it might be, dough and batter made with flour or eggs can contain harmful germs, like E. coli and Salmonella.
  • Thaw turkey safely: The turkey has to thaw properly to prevent harmful germs from growing. So thaw it in the fridge, in a sink of cold water (changing the water every 30 minutes), or in the microwave. 
  • Wash your hands: This advice is about as basic as it gets. Be sure to wash your hands often with soap and water before, during, and after preparing food.

This content is free for use with credit to Public Health Madison & Dane County .

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