We have made some significant strides as we approach the second Thanksgiving since the pandemic broke early last year. With the development of vaccines and their availability for people aged 5 to 59, people are taking the plunge and traveling for the holiday this year.
And though this year is relatively better than the last, only 59 percent of Americans are vaccinated. This means Covid-19 is still a real threat for the unvaccinated population, potentially causing severe illness. However, the Delta variant has made it so that even the vaccinated can get a breakthrough infection.
All things considered, that shouldn’t be the reason that you won’t celebrate Thanksgiving this year. There are several ways that you ensure to have a Covid-safe Thanksgiving—protecting your friends and yourself.
- Access The Risk in Your Area
“At this point of the pandemic, there’s really no such thing as a zero-risk activity, and that should not be your goal,” says Leana Wen, an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University in Washington D.C.
As such, you must be watchful of the level of Covid-19 infection in your area and that of the place where you are planning to spend Thanksgiving. While infection rates in your area may be relatively low, you might head into a city or area where the infection rate is higher, elevating the risk of you getting infected. On the flip side, you might carry the virus across stateliness if you are from a high-risk area.
- Get Vaccinated
“The first and best way to reduce both risk of exposure and risk of infection, of course, is to require that everyone who comes to your Thanksgiving celebration is vaccinated,” wrote Dr. Megan Ranney, associate professor of emergency medicine and public health at Brown University for NBC News.
While it might be a little late now to get fully vaccinated in time for Thanksgiving or even Christmas—you are considered partially vaccinated two weeks after the first vaccine shot and fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose—vaccination cuts the risk of you getting infected by at least 70 percent to 90 percent. And if you have received the booster shot, your odds are even better.
“For the people who are vaccinated, the people who are vaccinated, the people who get boosted, enjoy your holiday season with your family. Indoors, grandparents, children, do it,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, top infectious disease expert, told CNN on Sunday.
- Rapid Covid-19 tests
“Testing before your Thanksgiving dinner or before you go for Thanksgiving dinner could have a big impact if everyone actually did it,” says Brooke Nichols, an infectious disease medical modeler at the Boston University School of Public Health.
Rapid Covid-19 tests can tell you whether a person is currently contagious within 10 to 15 minutes. Very much like pregnancy tests that display one or two lines to indicate whether someone is pregnant or not, rapid tests work the same.
“Rapid Tests are a snapshot of how much virus you are shedding, if any,” said Eric Cioe-Pena, MD, director of global health at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, New York.
Health experts advise that people use Rapid Covid-19 tests on the same day that they want to engage with people. These antigen tests do not rule out if somebody does not have the virus; if their antigen levels are low, the tests could turn negative. However, they do mitigate the risk of transmission if everyone knows their status.
If you plan on meeting with a group of friends this Thanksgiving, you should all get tested. The Tests are relatively affordable and accessible, with the tests averaging at $24 over-the-counter.
Lastly, don’t forget to do the five; wash your hands often, do not touch your face, sneeze into your elbow, wear a mask when necessary and social distance. We are fighting the pandemic together, and by staying safe, we are miles ahead.