Safe Gatherings for Thanksgiving

Leaves on a cream color background. Text reads: "Happy Thanksgiving".

Published November 23, 2022

With the flu season upon us earlier than ever, there are ways you can keep your family safe while still gathering with family and friends.

Respiratory illnesses, such as the flu and RSV, are cropping up sooner and at a higher rate than we’ve seen in previous years.

The best way to protect yourself from all respiratory illnesses is to be vaccinated against them. Vaccines usually take two weeks to be effective protection. According to early data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a release from the Erie County Department of Health, the current flu vaccine is effective against the current influenza viruses that are circulating.

What else can I do to protect myself at these gatherings?

Regardless of your vaccination status, you can practice the following to reduce the risk to yourself and your loved ones:

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, or use the inner crook of your elbow. Throw any used tissues away immediately and wash your hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Use adjusted social distancing
    • Stay 3-6’ feet away when having conversations with those you don’t live with
    • When eating, set up tables that groups members of the same household together.
  • Wear masks while indoors, especially if visiting those vulnerable to respiratory illnesses
  • If you’re hosting, clean frequently touched surfaces and objects, like door knobs, tables, utensil handles, etc.

What if I feel sick?

If you feel sick, it’s important that you stay home and don’t risk spreading any respiratory illnesses, especially if members of vulnerable populations will be there.

Vulnerable populations include:

  • Adults 65 years and older
  • Children under 2 years old
  • Young children and adults with chronic health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease.
  • Those pregnant
  • People who live in nursing homes

If someone in your household is sick with a respiratory illness, those they live with should remain at home and avoid gatherings. It’s recommended that the sick person be isolated, use a facemask when around others and avoid sharing any personal items until they better.