Doctors encourage COVID boosters for Thanksgiving, say it’s never too late to get one

They also say precautions groups should take over the holiday depend on their vaccination status
Published: Nov. 16, 2021 at 10:47 PM CST
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, and while more families are expected to gather for the holiday this year, doctors are saying people should still be mindful of taking COVID precautions.

CapRock Health System Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lon Young says getting vaccinated is by far the most important and effective thing anyone can do to protect themselves and others. He also encourages anyone in one of the recommended groups to get their booster shot before the holiday.

Young says it’s not too late to get a booster vaccine before Thanksgiving, and that there’s a good chance that those who get the vaccine now will get some immunity boost within the week. He even says it could help those who are exposed to the virus around the same time they get the shot.

”If you got the booster even a few days before Thanksgiving and you were exposed, it takes several days before an infection would set in,” Young said. “During that time, the booster has some time to work, and so it would lessen the infection that you got. There’s never really a bad time to get a booster. It’s never too late to get a booster.”

Young also encourages anyone who has yet to get their first dose of the vaccine to also get one before Thanksgiving. He says the holidays are a good time to consider getting vaccinated because the likelihood of getting exposed to COVID increases during this period.

“We’re getting together more often, which means we’re exposing each other more often, but also, as the weather gets cooler, we spend more time inside in more enclosed spaces,” Young said. “It’s making less and less sense to be concerned about the safety of the vaccine because of the enormous amount of data that we have now that shows the vaccine is both safe and effective.”

Regarding other precautions, Young says it really depends on the vaccination status of those who are thinking about getting together. He says fully vaccinated groups have little to worry about.

“It doesn’t really have to be any different than your usual Thanksgiving routine if everybody’s vaccinated,” Young said.

But for those who are not, Young says the safest option is still to not gather at all.

“If you must get together, use the masks and the social distancing and the precautions if you’re exposed that we’ve been talking about it seems like for years now,” Young said. “Try to gather in larger spaces with good airflow or gather outside. If you are potentially exposed, the same rules apply. You should sequester yourself away from other people for a period of time until you can be tested. None of that has changed for those people who aren’t vaccinated.”

Robert E. Madkins is a minister who lives in Bryan. He says he and his wife both have large families who they plan to have over for the holiday.

“I plan to continue, as I have been doing, the wearing of the mask,” Madkins said. “I plan to practice social distance, and I do not plan to travel this Thanksgiving, at all.”

The Quartemont family says most people coming to their celebration have been vaccinated, but there has been discussions about getting boosters.

“There’s been talk,” Corey Quartemont, who lives in Bryan, said. “Most of us got the Johnson & Johnson that only requires one shot, but I know my husband has thought about getting the booster.”

“I’m hoping that anybody that comes that hasn’t been vaccinated will wear a mask if they don’t feel comfortable,” Velvet Quartemont, who is Corey’s mother-in-law, said.

Young also says while it’s still good to wash your hands, use hand sanitizer, and keep surfaces clean, we’ve learned a very significant amount of virus transmission occurs in the air when people share their breath.

“Most of the spread of this infection occurs airborne, and droplets and aerosols that are produced when we talk, laugh, sing, or just breathe, those aerosols and droplets carry the virus,” Young said.

“Cleanliness is pretty close to godliness,” Madkins said. “A lot of bacteria and viruses happens because of uncleanliness, so when my wife and I go to Sam’s Club, we load up with more cleaning supplies than we normally use to always have more than enough.”

Young says he doesn’t anticipate a spike in COVID infections to be as severe as last year, but does say it would be foolish to assume there won’t be a spike at all over the holidays and into the winter. He hopes it will only be a mild spike that consists of primarily infections and very few hospitalizations and deaths.

“When we look at the other areas of the country that are currently colder than we are now, even those areas that have higher vaccination rates than we do are seeing spikes as people congregate indoors more and are not out in open spaces,” Young said.

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