TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — To minimize the risk and spread of COVID-19 during the holiday season, Cherokee Nation Public Health is recommending Cherokee citizens follow health and safety guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Being fully vaccinated is the best way to have a safe holiday gathering, according to Dr. David Gahn, Cherokee Nation Public Health Medical Director. For those who are not fully vaccinated, wearing a well-fitting mask is recommended when in the presence of others. Those who are visiting high-transmission areas as defined by the CDC should also wear a mask, even if they are fully vaccinated. The CDC’s COVID-19 travel recommendations map is available online at www.cdc.gov.

“From the beginning, Cherokee Nation has implemented efforts into slowing and stopping the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Gahn. “That’s why it’s important for Cherokee citizens and everyone else to continue to take the proper precautions to stay safe, especially during the holiday season.”

Some, including those with weakened immune systems, may not be protected even if they are fully vaccinated. Dr. Gahn recommends those citizens take all safety precautions recommended for those who are not vaccinated, which includes wearing a mask when going to gatherings.

For gatherings, it’s safest to be outdoors rather than in indoors if possible. Avoiding crowded, poorly ventilated spaces is also recommended. The CDC and Cherokee Nation Public Health also continue to recommend social distancing when possible and washing hands often.

Those who experience symptoms of COVID-19 should be tested and should not host or attend gatherings.

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. praised Cherokee Nation’s public health team for its guidance during the pandemic.

“The work of our Cherokee Nation Public Health team is something I am so thankful for this holiday season,” Chief Hoskin said. “Following their advice has prevented misery and saved the lives of countless of our fellow Cherokees. I urge all citizens to continue to follow public health advice and protect each other, as COVID remains a threat.”

Any member of the public 5 years or older is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at any of the Cherokee Nation’s outpatient health centers throughout the Cherokee Nation Reservation. Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments can also be made by calling 539-234-4099.