Turkey, Mashed Potatoes, and Rapid COVID Tests? How to Celebrate Thanksgiving Safely

Dr. Robert Klugman of UMass Memorial Medical Center has advice for families on how to celebrate Thanksgiving safely this year.

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When it comes to Thanksgiving, it is always about food and family, but deciding how big of a crowd should be around the table this year is a difficult decision for many.

With two weeks until Thanksgiving, children were excited to roll up their sleeves at a vaccination clinic in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, on Thursday, but they will not be fully vaccinated in time for the holiday.

While families are eager to return to normal, many are proceeding with caution this Thanksgiving.

“This year we’re still going to keep it small. I don’t know what the right answer is, but we’re going to err on the side of safety,” Debby Moore said.

Doctors are still predicting an uptick in cases following the holidays. Breakthrough infections are also rising and booster shots are still being administered, which makes a lot of families nervous.

“A few people in our family are not vaccinated so we are just trying to decide. Maybe we should all test before we get together,” parent Caitlin Albano said.

NBC10 Boston asked Dr. Robert Klugman of UMass Memorial Medical Center for advice on how to celebrate safely.

“We want people to get together. Just try to do it as carefully as you can,” Dr. Klugman said.

He said it is a much different situation than last year, but the pandemic is still here and the variant is still out there. He said serving dinner buffet style is now okay, but keeping the windows open for airflow is still a good idea.

Knowing the vaccination status of those on your guest list can help families plan and if guests are nervous, have rapid tests on hand.

“I think you have to weigh the risk of what you do and how you do it. And maybe keep grandma and grandpa away from the grandkids if needed,” Dr. Klugman said.

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Jodi RR Smith of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting said it is perfectly acceptable for hosts to call their family members and ask about vaccination. She said it is also okay to decline an invitation if you do not feel safe, but no need to explain.

“You don’t get to tell the hostess why you don’t feel safe, but you get to decline the invitation. Just say, ‘Thank you so much. Sorry we missed it. We hope you have a great Thanksgiving and we hope to see you next year,’” she said.

Smith also encouraged families to find creative ways to spend time together, even if it’s not for the entire meal.

“Maybe your family comes just for dessert and for dessert, everybody is outside in the backyard. There’s lots of different things we can do when we think in advance and we’re strategic,” Smith said.

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