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6 Tips For Safer Thanksgiving Travel

Posted on November 22, 2021
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The following article is guest authored by Dr. Alexandria Yarborough, PharmD. She is a Pharmacy Manager in South Carolina and a Families Fighting Flu Advocate. 

COVID-19 infections are on the rise as temperatures drop and holiday plans are made. Unfortunately, an estimated 100 million Americans have yet to receive a single dose of any COVID-19 vaccine. And holiday travel will undeniably send cases skyrocketing.  About 47,000 patients with the COVID-19 virus are currently hospitalized nationwide, according to Department of Health and Human Services data, along with an average of roughly 1,150 preventable COVID-19 fatalities per day.

Although COVID-19 booster shots have been authorized for all adults before the upcoming holidays, the main focus must be on vaccinating those who have not yet been immunized. It’s also important to realize that most restrictions have been lifted across the country causing not only covid cases to rise but the flu as well. Unfortunately, those who choose not to get vaccinated against COVID-19 often refuse flu shots as well.

Our focus over the last 2 years has been on mask mandates and social distancing to reduce the spread of coronavirus – which are also steps that caused a decrease in flu cases. Now, those measures are often disregarded and many travelers are unsure if family gatherings are appropriate or not.

Airports and roads may seem jam-packed this year as AAA predicts 53.4 million people to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, up 13% from last year. Most public health experts agree that it’s okay to make Thanksgiving and other holiday plans with trusted friends and family, as long as you’re taking precautions. It’s important to celebrate with the people we love.

Here are 6 tips to keep you safe as we approach the holiday season:

  1. If your family is fully vaccinated, please celebrate together. You’re well protected with vaccines with or without boosters.
  2. If everyone at your table is fully vaccinated but celebrating with someone at a higher risk, celebrate as normal but consider traveling to your high-risk friends and relatives to minimize their risk. Always try to plan around the most vulnerable person.
  3. If the adults are fully vaccinated but the kids are not – pass the pudding, please.  The risk goes down greatly when all eligible adults and teenagers are vaccinated. Partially vaccinated children will have some protection, and younger kids are largely protected if they’re surrounded by vaccinated people.
  4. If not all adults are fully vaccinated, you may be dealing with some difficult conversations and/or hurt feelings this year. Express your concerns factually, and if you do decide to celebrate together, focus on safety and ways to protect the most vulnerable instead of arguing about vaccines.
  5. Other suggestions include utilizing rapid testing via testing locations or at-home kits, increasing ventilation in indoor spaces or considering outdoor gatherings if weather permits, educating yourself on case rates in your area, and staying home if you are experiencing any cough/cold symptoms.
  6. Get vaccinated NOW – before Christmas and the New Year – against COVID-19 and flu! 

Towey, R., & Rattner, N. (2021, November 16). Dr. Fauci says Covid cases are starting to climb in some areas of the U.S. CNBC.
Amelia Nierenberg, A (2021, November 19). Coronavirus: Thanksgiving how-to. New York Times.

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