UH Med Now

A message of safety from Dean Hedges & Dr. Buenconsejo-Lum

Date: December 23rd, 2021 in JABSOM News    Print or PDF

Aloha everyone,

The holidays are here and so is the Omicron variant. We are sending these tips and reminders as you head into the activities and celebrations that you or others have planned. 

There are safer ways to celebrate the holidays: 

  • Get vaccinated. It is the best way to minimize COVID-19 risk and keep your family and friends safe; get a booster if you are eligible*
    • We are seeing increased numbers of breakthrough infections among health care providers and workers in health care settings in Hawai‘i. We want to reduce the impact of disrupted education and training and also prevent workforce outages in the health care settings where our students learn.  Therefore, JABSOM requires all medical students and ʻImi Hoʻōla students to receive a booster shot by January 31, 2022. You may self-schedule at any location and time convenient to you. Please see the links below or go to hawaiicovid19.com/vaccine for more information. We recommend an mRNA vaccine booster (Pfizer or Moderna).
  • Gather in smaller groups in an outdoor setting with good ventilation. Attending a holiday event? Ask the host how many people will be in attendance and recommend having it in an outdoor area, such as a park. Avoid being in poorly ventilated spaces or areas.
  • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth unless you are eating or drinking. If you are in a crowded area, replace your mask when you are chewing or in between servings.
    Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially before eating.
  • Maintain a physical distance from others. Greet others with a shaka to minimize contact. Forego hugs and handshakes.
  • Clean high-touch surfaces especially after you have visitors in your home. If you are sharing a meal with others, use separate utensils.
  • Get tested if you are feeling sick, even if you only have mild symptoms. Please stay home until you are feeling well.

If you plan to travel this holiday season, here are some helpful recommendations to consider before traveling. Those interested in getting tested or vaccinated before a trip can find a site below.

From the CDC: Self-testing Before Holiday Gatherings

Healthcare providers should consider recommending that their patients perform COVID-19 self-tests (also referred to as home tests or over-the-counter tests), and encourage their guests to do the same, before indoor holiday gatherings. Along with vaccination, masking, and physical distancing, self-tests help reduce the chance of spreading SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Self-tests can also help protect unvaccinated children, older individuals, those who are immunocompromised, or individuals at risk of severe disease. The key points below can help guide conversations with your patients about COVID-19 self-testing.

When to Consider Self-testing

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using a self-test before joining indoor gatherings with others who are not in your household, or if you live with someone at higher risk for severe COVID-19.
Self-testing is one of many risk-reduction strategies—including getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing, and washing your hands—that protect you and others by reducing the chances of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.
Self-tests can be used whether you have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and regardless if you are having symptoms of COVID-19.

Where to Get a Self-test

COVID-19 self-tests are currently available over-the-counter in many locations, including pharmacies, some community health centers, and online.
As self-tests become more widely available in all communities, more people will have access to self-testing.

How to Use and Interpret a Self-test
  • Self-tests can be taken anywhere, are easy to use, and produce rapid results. Follow all manufacturer’s instructions for performing the self-test.
    A positive self-test result means you have the virus. Follow CDC’s guidance on what to do if you are sick and isolate from others.
  • Next, inform your healthcare provider, as well as any close contacts. If you must be in contact with others, wear a mask and practice physical distancing to reduce the risk of getting other people sick.
  • A negative self-test result means that you may not have an infection. You should repeat the test at least 24 hours later to increase confidence that you are not infected.
Additional Resources

CDC provides resources and guidance on self- and antigen testing, along with videos on how to perform a self-test and interpret your results.
CDC’s Viral Testing Tool can help healthcare providers and patients understand COVID-19 testing options.
Visit CDC-INFO or call CDC-INFO at 1-800-232-4636.

Find a testing site:

City and County of Honolulu

Find a vaccination site:

City and County of Honolulu

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