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When should you schedule your COVID-19 booster before holiday travel?

Holiday season is fast-approaching, and with a readily available COVID-19 vaccine, many Americans are planning to catch up on missed time with loved ones.

ALABAMA, USA — Holiday season is fast-approaching, and with a readily available COVID-19 vaccine and boosters, many Americans are planning to catch up on missed time with loved ones.

For those who received their first full set of vaccinations from February to May 2021, University of Alabama at Birmingham infectious disease experts say now is the time to schedule a booster ahead of Thanksgiving and other holidays as 2021 comes to a close.

“The studies are showing 15 days after the booster dose, the antibody levels are excellent and just as good at 30 days,” said Jodie Dionne, M.D., associate professor with the UAB Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine. “For example, if you plan to travel to see family for Thanksgiving, you will probably want to get your booster sometime between Nov. 1 and 10.”

For a full list of who is eligible for a COVID-19 booster, click here.

When it comes to boosters, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations allow for mixing and matching for booster shots; however, Dionne says it is best to consult your physician when deciding on a booster that is different from your original vaccine set.

RELATED: UAB Health Expert: Don't wait to vaccinate your kids, 'this is the time'

When planning holiday get-togethers, Latesha Elopre, M.D., associate professor with UAB’s Division of Infectious Diseases, recommends taking into consideration the health and immune status of people at your event.

“If you are unvaccinated or others at the event are unvaccinated, it is important to weigh the cost,” she said. “There is potential risk that the virus could spread to others.”

Elopre recommends, if you become exposed to someone with COVID-19 and plan to travel, you consider getting tested three to five days after exposure. 

Even though children ages 5-11 are now eligible to receive the vaccine, there is a risk of exposing elderly or immune-compromised individuals to the virus. Many children may not have received their vaccine by the time holiday gatherings begin or be fully vaccinated from the virus. Still, when celebrating with friends and family, Elopre says, smaller gatherings held outside may be the safest option. 

“I think the best case scenario is that you are limiting your gatherings to those who are fully vaccinated,” she said.

To schedule your COVID-19 vaccine or booster, click here.

RELATED: No, booster shots are not an indication that a vaccine is ineffective