Planning for Safe Thanksgiving Celebrations

Thanksgiving dinner on a table

Turkey and dressing. Football games. Black Friday ads. Time with family. These are just a few of the traditions we look forward to every Thanksgiving. Of course, 2020 was a year like no other: The climbing number of COVID-19 cases, combined with a lack of vaccines, forced us to sit these cherished moments out.

But as we gather around the Thanksgiving table this year, there’s a lot to be thankful for: Experts say it is safer to get together with family and friends – albeit with a few specific precautions.

Let’s be thankful for vaccines

Whether you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner or attending a gathering somewhere else, it’s important to ask about vaccine status. It may not always be an easy or welcomed conversation. Still, it will help you make an informed decision about how to celebrate.

The three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the United States have all been proven safe and effective — and continue to be our best tool for protecting ourselves. It is certainly great news that the CDC has just approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children between the ages of 5 and 11 years old.

Let’s be thankful for “tried and true” safety measures

They say there’s nothing like repetition to create new habits. So, now that we’ve all been practicing these safety techniques for 18+ months, we should all be good at them and feel like part of our everyday routine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages people gathering for the Thanksgiving holiday to continue to:

  • Mask up. Regardless of vaccination status, the CDC recommends all individuals wear a mask in a crowded public indoor setting
  • Stay home if you’re sick. COVID-19, the flu, colds and even allergies have similar symptoms. So, it can be tough to know which one you have without a COVID-19 test. Play it safe if you’re experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms by staying home.
  • Socially distance yourself from others. Though crowded Thanksgiving tables can be fun, help guests socially distance themselves by setting up your table (or tables) for maximum safety with place settings at least 6 feet apart.
  • Plan an outdoor celebration. When it comes to COVID-19, outside is always safer than inside. Create a cozy space with a firepit and blankets in your backyard to help further reduce the risk of illness.
  • Get air flowing. If you have an indoor celebration, a good breeze from an open window or fan can help disperse those germs and keep guests safe.

 Let’s be thankful we can travel again

For some, Thanksgiving means visiting far-away friends and family. While travel isn’t as risky as before vaccines were widely available, it’s still essential to follow some basic safety tips to limit the spread of COVID-19. Here’s what the CDC has to say about holiday travel:

  • Get tested. If you’re not vaccinated, get a COVID-19 viral test once to three days before your trip.
  • Get vaccinated. The CDC recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated.
  • Wear a mask. You will be required to wear a face covering on all public transportation, including busses, trains and airplanes. If you’re traveling by car, wear a mask whenever you stop to stretch your legs in a public place.
  • Bring your COVID vaccine card. More businesses, especially restaurants, are requiring proof of your COVID-19 vaccination. If you’ve lost or misplaced your vaccine record, you can download and print a copy through the state of Maryland

Still have questions?

If you have any questions about what’s best for your family, we encourage you to talk with your primary care physician who plays a crucial role in helping you and your family stay healthy and safe while still experiencing the joy of the season.


Amirali Amjadi, MD, is an Infectious Disease Specialist at Luminis Health Doctors Community Medical Center.