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Experts say some can have a normal Thanksgiving, while others should take COVID-19 precautions

Thanksgiving dinner
Posted at 7:35 AM, Nov 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-22 07:58:14-05

TAMPA, Fla. — “Last year the guidelines were pretty clear and uniform for everyone. This year I think the answer is it all depends on who you’re getting together with,” said Dr. Thomas Unnasch, Distinguished USF Health Professor.”

Health experts say if your plans include gathering with people who are all fully vaccinated, don’t have serious health problems, and aren’t elderly, then you can have a pretty normal Thanksgiving this year.

“Pre-2020 type of thanksgiving. Party like it was 2019 because everybody is going to be in pretty good shape and protected,” said Unnasch.

However, the same does not go for everyone. Experts say several people will still need to take precautions.

“If you are dealing with a grandmother who is 90 years old or somebody who is an organ transplant patient or somebody who has an immunocompromised situation then you may want to be a little more cautious,” said Unnasch.

Especially if you’re gathering with people who are unvaccinated against COVID-19, you’ll want to implement some COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

“The risk really lies there in people who are unvaccinated coming down with the infection. People who aren’t vaccinated are no more protected than they were a year ago and I think we have to take precautions in the same way we did a year ago,” said Unnasch.

To reduce virus spread as much as possible, experts suggest having the gathering outside, washing hands often, having hand sanitizer available, practicing social distancing, and wearing a mask as much as possible.

“I don’t think it’s really a problem unmasking for dinner. One of the things with this virus is it’s a combination if you get exposed to a person who is infected and how long the exposure is,” said Unnasch.

If you have kids who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated yet, doctors say you’ll want to minimize the amount of contact they have with high-risk or unprotected relatives.

“Chances are they’re not going to get sick but they can certainly get the infection and then pass it on to somebody who is much more susceptible or at risk for developing a really bad outcome,” said Unnasch.