Last year, the predominant public health advice before U.S. Thanksgiving and other holiday gatherings was simple: don’t go, but if you must, be really, careful. This year, now that all American adults, along with children over age 5, are eligible to receive at least one of an arsenal of highly effective vaccines, many infectious disease experts cautiously acknowledge that the risks of gathering are generally lower. However, it is still important to thoughtfully consider holiday plans and take precautions to ensure a safe U.S. Thanksgiving.
Consider who is most at risk
As you’re deciding what precautions to take, or whether to travel at all, keep in mind the people you’re trying to protect. The most important goal is to keep safe those who are at risk of severe disease or dying from COVID-19. Even if they’re vaccinated, people who are older or have pre-existing conditions are still at higher risk of ending up in the hospital or dying of the coronavirus. It’s also worth considering the safety of children who are too young to be vaccinated or are only partially vaccinated. Once you’ve identified who’s at greatest risk, the next step is to consider how you can protect those people.
Know who is vaccinated – or had a booster
Before you agree to attend the Thanksgiving feast, speak to the other guests about whether they and their families are vaccinated. It’s always important to have conversations well in advance with everyone involved about the plan to gather safely.
Think about where you are going – and where you are coming from
The spread of COVID-19 isn’t just about our own behavior—it’s also about what’s going on in our communities. That’s why you should keep an eye on how quickly the virus is spreading in your local community, as well as in the community you’re traveling to.
Continue to engage in preventative measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19
Beyond getting vaccinated, it’s important to keep up the now-familiar pandemic safety measures: social distancing, masking, washing your hands and considering eating outside.