Planning for your Thanksgiving gathering as COVID-19 lingers

Reporter: Michelle Alvarez Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
Credit: WINK News

With Thanksgiving approaching, many plans are being made or starting to solidify. But health experts say there could be a post-holiday spike in COVID-19 cases if families decide to gather.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb is the former FDA Commissioner. “There’s no question about that. People are exhausted right now, but we need to remain vigilant just for a little bit longer,” said. Dr. Gottlieb.

Seeing family for the holiday is a tradition for many, but, as the pandemic pushes forward, some families have a choice to make. Will they attend their family’s Thanksgiving celebration this year or not.

Dr. Susan Hook is a nurse practitioner and the executive director of Samaritan Health and Wellness Center. “With people that have compromised immune systems, I think a lot of those people are still reluctant to be out in crowds, even if it is family,” Dr. Hook said.

Hooks says there are not only medical but social implications to consider. “Gathering outdoors is probably preferable for all of us, and here in Florida we can do that actually,” said Dr. Hook.

Vaccination status can also complicate family gatherings and the ever-popular “Friendsgiving,” even for those in the process of getting their shots.

Children under the age of five are not able to get vaccinated yet. And, most kids aged five to 11 are not yet fully vaccinated. Any adults who have both shots could risk breakthrough infection by going to Thanksgiving gatherings.

“It’s, unfortunately, dividing families, families and friends. You have people that are pro-vaccine all the way, and then you have people that are anti-vaccine all the way,” said Hook.

Either way, getting vaccinated is a choice. But, Dr. Hook believes, this Thanksgiving should still promise to be better than the last. “Almost two years into this, and we do have the option of the vaccine and we have our own choices to make, and everyone has the freedom to do that,” she said. “But I think we have a lot to be thankful for and we need to remember that when we’re gathering together with family and friends.”

According to the CDC, nearly 59% of the population of the United States is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. For now, public health officials say they should assess their own risk tolerance and follow health guidance to celebrate as safely as possible.

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