Infectious disease expert gives 3 rules for safe holiday gathering

And why he feels having booster is new definition for being ‘fully vaccinated’

Dr. Ronald Nahass, the president of ID Care, the largest physician group for infectious disease specialists in New Jersey, isn’t against indoor gatherings or holiday parties.

In fact, he said his extended family had nearly 50 people during a Thanksgiving Day feast.

Dr. Ronald Nahass. (File photo)

But, as someone with clear understanding of what the COVID-19 virus is and how it’s transmitted, Nahass insisted that everyone in attendance adhered to three standards in order to come. Following these steps, he said, would enable any company to have a safe holiday get-together.

His rules:

  1. If eligible, you have to have had your booster shot. “That’s the new definition for being fully vaccinated,” he said.
  2. On the morning of the event, you must take and pass an antigen test: “The ones you can buy at a CVS or Walgreens are fine; but you have to take one.”
  3. You must be free of any symptoms, regardless of the test result: “If you’re feeling sick, you can’t be there.”

“If you have your booster, you take the test and you are negative and you don’t have any symptoms, that means you don’t have the virus, and you can’t spread what you don’t have,” he said. “It means everyone is well protected. If you do that, it makes for a safe event.

“But you have to follow all three rules.”

Nahass said the testing component is something that has been overlooked throughout the component.

“We usually only take a test when we think we are sick,” he said. “We underutilize testing as a means to create a margin of safety. We need to recognize that it’s a valuable tool.”

Nahass said the same guidelines can be used for return-to-work scenarios — although he admits daily testing is not feasible.

He stressed, however, the importance of getting the booster.

“The booster is amazingly effective in broadening and strengthening our immune response, particularly to the Delta variant, which is what we’re worried about at the moment,” he said. “We hope that will be true for Omicron.

“This is what we do know: The immunity from the initial vaccine series we all got waned. You need that extra margin of protection.”