To stay safe amid the pandemic this Thanksgiving, the Mayo Clinic recommends only gathering if everyone is fully vaccinated against COVID and is feeling well.
The renowned Rochester-based medical center says small, indoor gatherings involving people who are fully vaccinated should be fine, so long as everyone is feeling well.
"The most important thing is to make sure that everyone is vaccinated. This is really the No. 1 measure we do to limit the spread of this pandemic," Dr. Raymund Razonable, a Mayo Clinic infectious diseases physician, said in a news release, adding that anyone eligible to get the booster dose should do so at least two weeks before the gathering.
Mayo says planning ahead to make sure everyone is fully vaccinated — meaning it's been two weeks since their final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine — is crucial to preventing the spread of the virus.
Related [Oct. 4]: Here are the CDC's COVID-19 guidelines for the holidays this year
However, Dr. Razonable doesn't recommend in-person gatherings with people who are not fully vaccinated, saying "It's probably best to just limit the number of interactions with unvaccinated individuals, particularly if there is rampant transmission of COVID in the community."
All of Minnesota except for Cook County in northeastern Minnesota have "high" levels of community transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Cook County's transmission rate is listed as "moderate."
"If (virus circulation) is rampant, then minimize gathering, even for the vaccinated individuals. Avoid public places, and if you have to go, make sure you wear your mask; have hand sanitizer available, so they can wash your hands right away; and then try to limit the distance to other people, particularly if you don't know their vaccination status," Razonable said.
Here's what the CDC recommends to celebrate the holidays safer this year:
- Get vaccinated to protect your loved ones, especially those who are still too young to get the COVID vaccine.
- Wear a well-fitting mask over your nose or mouth if you're with people who are unvaccinated or have weakened immune systems. People should also wear masks if they're in an indoor public setting and not fully vaccinated or if they're vaccinated in an indoor public setting in communities with substantial to high transmission.
- If you are gathering with a group from multiple households, consider adding additional precautions, like all avoiding crowded indoor spaces prior to gathering and taking a COVID test to further reduce the risk of spreading COVID.
- Avoid crowded, poorly ventilated spaces — outdoor gatherings are safer.
- Get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms or have had close contact with someone who has COVID.
- Delay traveling if you are not fully vaccinated.
- Stay home if you are sick or have COVID symptoms.
- Wash your hands often.
MDH also says to consider postponing large celebrations and events until there is less community spread of COVID and for smaller gatherings, consider postponing until everyone attending is fully vaccinated.
If you must gather indoors, do so in areas with good ventilation or bring in outside air by opening windows and doors. And host the gathering in an area where people not from the same household can stay at least 6 feet apart from others.
The CDC says if you're looking for a safer way to gather for Thanksgiving and other upcoming holidays, host a virtual gathering or party instead.