Cambridge Public Health Department publishes advisory on protection against Omicron variant

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The fast-spreading Omicron variant is expected to cause a surge in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations in Massachusetts over the coming weeks. Activities that were thought to be reasonably safe for people vaccinated a few months ago now carry a higher risk. Given the very high transmissibility of Omicron, the Cambridge Public Health Department (CPHD) urges residents to adhere to these recommendations:

  • Get vaccinated and booster
  • Wear your mask as much as possible. Better quality “medical style” masks offer the best protection.
  • Carefully consider holiday celebrations and social gatherings
  • Take precautions if you are traveling
  • Get tested
  • In the event of infection or exposure to COVID-19, follow public health guidelines

More detailed information on each of these recommendations is provided below.

Get your vaccine and your booster

New data indicates that the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine and the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will not provide adequate protection against infection with the Omicron variant, but will protect against serious illness. COVID-19 vaccination followed by a booster dose is the best way to reduce the risk of infection and serious illness of the Omicron variant. CPHD strongly recommends:

  • Vaccination for people 5 years of age and over.
  • Booster vaccine for people 16 years of age and over. You are entitled to a booster 6 months after dose 2 of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and 2 months after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
  • Note: CPHD recommends the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and booster for eligible individuals. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine and booster are only recommended for people who do not want or cannot receive the two-dose vaccines.

Wear your mask as much as possible

CPHD urges residents, regardless of their vaccination or booster status, to wear a mask indoors when they are outside the home and in certain outdoor environments. Recommendations and tips:

  • In addition to indoor places where masking is mandatory, people should wear a mask when visiting friends and family, common areas of apartment buildings, workplaces and other areas. interior places.
  • Not all masks offer the same protection. The fit of a mask, its ability to filter air, and the number of layers it contains are all important to consider when choosing which mask to wear. Better quality masks, such as the KF94 and KN95 masks, offer much better protection to the wearer than cloth masks. See the CPHDs Choose the best mask for you advice.
  • If someone in your household may have COVID-19, everyone in the household should wear a mask.
  • Consider wearing a mask outdoors if you are in a crowded area where physical distancing is not possible.

Carefully consider holiday celebrations and social gatherings

Because Omicron spreads much more easily than previous variants, the risk of infection during indoor events is higher than it was in early December. If you are hosting or attending a social gathering, here are a few things to consider:

  • Outdoor celebrations and activities are always less risky than indoor ones.
  • Smaller indoor gatherings with fully immunized and boosted people are less risky than large gatherings where the immunization status of people may be unknown.
  • Indoor celebrations that involve unmasking, such as a dinner party, pose a greater risk than a gathering where people are masked all or most of the time.
  • Do not organize or attend a gathering if you are feeling sick, even with mild symptoms such as a sore throat or a stuffy nose.

You can cancel or ignore events if:

  • You are concerned about personal risk or if you live or spend time with vulnerable members of your household or family.
  • The event will take place in a crowded indoor setting, especially if the ventilation is poor.
  • People are not vaccinated and boosted and will not always wear masks.
  • You are a senior or have a medical condition that increases your risk of serious illness from COVID-19 infection.

If you decide to organize or attend an indoor event:

  • Communicate with your host or guests to assess the level of risk and comfort prior to the event. It’s okay to ask about vaccination status, the number of guests expected, and whether masks will be worn or required at an event so that you can make an informed decision about attending or hosting the gathering.
  • Consider asking guests to self-assess on the day of the event. Be aware, however, that while self-tests are convenient and become increasingly accurate, they are not as accurate as a PCR test for detecting COVID-19. Even after a negative self-test, consider taking other precautions such as masking and distancing, especially if someone in your group is immunosuppressed or at a higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19.
  • Use fans or open windows to improve ventilation.
  • Wear a mask except when actively eating or drinking.
  • Ask guests not to sing or speak loudly, even with their mask on.
  • Try to maintain a physical distance from each other as much as possible.

Take precautions if you are traveling

  • If you are planning to travel for a vacation or an event, visit The CDC Travel page.
  • Remember that wearing a mask is mandatory when traveling on public transport (including airplanes) and indoors at transport hubs (including airports). For more information on masks, see the CPHD Mask Orientation webpage.
  • Do not travel if you have been exposed to COVID-19, are ill, or have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • If you are not fully immunized, the CDC recommends that you delay your trip. If you must travel, get tested before and after your trip.

Get tested

Cambridge offers free COVID-19 testing five days a week. Home test kits, when available, are another option. You should be tested for COVID-19:

  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Five days after coming into close contact with someone with COVID-19.
  • Before and after attending a rally, especially if you or a participant is not fully immunized.
  • If you are not fully immunized or boosted and have frequent face-to-face contact with other people.

If you are infected or exposed to COVID-19:

  • Let your health care provider know about your positive test result and stay in touch with them. Let them know if you are feeling very sick. If you have trouble breathing, go to your local emergency room or call 911.
  • Observe public health quarantine and isolation advice from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
  • Notify close contacts directly and / or through Mass notification system. MassNotify is a voluntary, anonymous service that alerts you if you may have been exposed to COVID-19. If you test positive for COVID-19, the system also allows you to anonymously share your positive COVID-19 test result with other MassNotify users.
  • Cambridge residents who have food or supply needs due to COVID-19 should contact the Cambridge Economic Opportunity Committee (CEOC) at 617-868-2900.


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