While it appears a vaccine could be available for general distribution in South Carolina within a few months, this is no time to relax how any of us deals with the very real presence of the COVID-19 virus.

When it is available, the vaccine will help prevent recipients from getting the virus; it’s not a treatment for the virus once it’s contracted.

During a press conference earlier this week, State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell noted that while the state is preparing for how it will receive and distribute a vaccine, DHEC continues to urge people to maintain vigilance by wearing face masks, practicing social distancing, frequently washing hands and avoiding large gatherings.

Here we are on the cusp of two major holidays that typically mean travel and gatherings with friends and family. There will be long breaks from school and the likelihood that a good many people will, as a result, mobilize is great. That means either Lakelands residents will travel for visits and holiday vacations or they will be visited by family and friends from outside the area.

No, we are not suggesting that everyone cancel all their plans. We are, however, urging people to use the utmost caution and, simply, be sensible.

If going over the river and through the woods is quite possibly putting Grandma’s health at risk, then forego the trip this time. Consider cutting back on how many people will gather, especially if anyone has underlying health issues. Limit those holiday parties in December. You don’t want to be the hostess or host with the most when it comes to spreading coronavirus.

Before plowing full steam ahead with the usual doings during the holidays, think of the health of your friends, your family and even yourself. These special holidays will roll back around in 2021. Far better to plan to have everyone together then than it is to risk creating a vacancy at the table or in the home.

Don’t let the promise of a vaccine cause you to slip into a false sense that all will be fine