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Gathering with family for Thanksgiving? How to prevent COVID-19 spread

Posted at 4:20 PM, Nov 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-22 17:54:25-05

(WXYZ) — Thanksgiving is just days away and many families are preparing for the turkey feast. But with COVID-19 cases surging in Michigan, how can we keep the virus out of our homes when gathering?

There are several precautions families can take at Thanksgiving. For instance, my family is limiting our celebration to immediate family who is vaccinated. We’re doing this because it’s a great way to lower everyone’s risk at Thanksgiving. Of course, it’s not going to completely eliminate the risk: There are breakthrough infections.

So, what you really need to think about is this: Who’s attending? Will grandparents or older aunts and uncles be there? Anyone who is age 80 and up has a much higher risk of dying from a breakthrough infection. Plus, people aged 65 and up and those with underlying health conditions are at a higher risk of developing a severe COVID-19 infection.

I highly suggest that if you’re eligible to get a booster shot, do so. And you are eligible now if you’re aged 18 and up.

Also, I recommend rapid antigen tests as an extra precaution. If you can, take the test on the day of the celebration. But it’s important to know that these tests do not pick up low levels of the virus when it’s still incubating. This leads me to my last piece of advice and that is to mask up.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services recently issued a face mask advisory for everyone, even if you’re vaccinated. And that’s because the virus is quickly spreading and wearing masks is a great way to reduce infection rates.

Many young children are not vaccinated. Some are not eligible and others have only gotten one shot since Pfizer’s vaccine was recently approved for kids aged 5 to 11.

I understand. Two of my young sons got their first vaccine shot right after Pfizer’s pediatric doses were approved. And kids, just like adults, have to wait three weeks in between the first and second dose.

On top of that, it takes a couple of weeks after the second shot before they’ll be fully protected. So for families with young children like myself, now is not the time to let your guard down. Don’t assume that just because everyone looks fine, that no one is carrying the virus.

I mentioned masks already, but it’s imperative that everyone masks up, especially when young kids mix with older adults. And please follow pandemic precautions like washing hands, avoid crowding together in tight unventilated spaces and staying 6 feet apart when masks are off, like when everyone is eating the delicious Thanksgiving meal.