A health expert from Baylor College of Medicine gives tips on staying safe and healthy while celebrating Thanksgiving as a family. (Karolina Grabowska / Pexels)
Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and although COVID-19 vaccines and tests are more widely available than they were last year, it’s still important to take precautions before attending family gatherings. , according to health experts at Baylor College of Medicine.
“One of the things that’s better this year is that we have vaccines and the knowledge advantage,” Isabel Valdez, medical assistant and assistant professor of general internal medicine at Baylor, said in a statement. November 22 press. “We have learned a lot over the past year about the behavior of COVID-19 and what it looks like. We also have more access to testing so that if we have symptoms we can get tested immediately, even at home. Mostly, we have vaccines. We have learned a lot and have come a long way.
Here are some health and safety tips as families across the country reunite with loved ones.
Gathering with family and friends
For people who are fully vaccinated, it is safe to congregate around other vaccinated people because there is less chance of catching COVID-19 and spreading the infection to others, Valdez said. Despite this, it’s still important to watch for symptoms and have them tested for symptoms to become present, added Valdez.
“Last year the fear was that if you showed symptoms you would have to stay home,” Valdez said in the press release. “You couldn’t get tested that easily and we didn’t have widely available vaccines, so we told people to cancel their plans. This year, assuming you’re vaccinated, we’re saying put your plans on hold while you get your test results. “
Valdez said it is important to be careful with people who are immunocompromised and children who have not received their full doses of the vaccine. Additionally, outdoor seating is always recommended, if possible, and gatherings should be small and organized with only family members, she said.
For those who are vaccinated and have symptoms, Valdez recommends social distancing and wearing a mask – even if the test is negative – to reduce the risk of transmitting other viruses like the common cold or the flu.
In 2020, serving buffet food was not recommended. This year it is considered safe if everyone is vaccinated and incorporates some hygiene rules including keeping hand sanitizer and soap nearby, keeping food covered, making sure there are utensils. for each dish and washing your hands before and after preparing a dish, Valdez said. .
“For those who want to be extra careful, you can wear your mask and sanitize your hands well before going up to the buffet table, regardless of vaccination status,” she said.
Whether by car or plane, extra precautions are needed for travelers, Valdez said in the press release.
Travelers should keep their distance from others or stay close to family or people they know while keeping hand sanitizer on hand and always wear their face mask, Valdez said.
“Even if you are vaccinated, it is not a bad idea to be careful at the airport by wearing your mask and having hand sanitizer with you while walking around crowded places and touching things.” Valdez said in the press release. “If everyone in your family is vaccinated, you can regroup because we don’t know who everyone is vaccinated at the airport. Be aware of the spacing and [wear a] mask whenever you are going to be surrounded by the masses.
Finally, drivers should keep hand sanitizer in their cars when stopping at gas stations or rest areas, and wear their masks if going indoors.