BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Are you taking a plane, train or automobile to get home for Thanksgiving?

University of Maryland Medical System experts say it’s still important to take precautions against COVID-19, such as wearing a mask in public indoor spaces and getting tested before travel.

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“The major difference between this year and last year’s holiday season is that we now have safe and effective vaccines,” says Dr. Greg Schrank, associate hospital epidemiologist at the University of Maryland Medical Center and an assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “We should celebrate the holidays together and take steps to make the risk of COVID transmission as low as possible.”

Dr. Andrea Berry, a pediatrician at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital and associate professor at the the University of Maryland School of Medicine, says parents who want to protect their kids should consider vaccination. Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine is approved for children ages 5 to 11.

The experts suggest wearing a mask in a plane, bus or train, even for travelers who are vaccinated, and say N95 and KN95 respirators are more effective than cloth masks.

Passengers should bring hand sanitizer with them and consider getting tested within 48 hours of their departure, the experts say.

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During get-togethers, “the more people that are fully vaccinated, the safer it will be,” the experts say. If the weather is nice, consider eating outside. But if it’s chilly, opening a window provides better ventilation, they say.

Anyone feeling sick or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should cancel plans and get tested.

“Unvaccinated people should consider getting tested in the first few days after their trip or large gathering, especially if it was to an area of substantial or high COVID-19 transmission,” the experts say.

Dr. David Marcozzi, UMMS’ COVID-19 incident commander and chief clinical officer of the University of Maryland Medical Center, notes the holidays are important for everyone’s well-being.

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“Most importantly, we all need to reconnect and enjoy being together with family and friends,” Dr. Marcozzi said. “It’s an important time and people should be sure to take care of their mental health.”

CBS Baltimore Staff