Here are steps to protect vulnerable family members during Thanksgiving celebration

‘Enjoy your family, friends, stay cautious around those that are particularly at high risk’

As we prepare to gather with our family and friends for Thanksgiving, many are understandably nervous about all the viruses that are circulating.

Experts say RSV, flu, and COVID can all be dangerous for the most vulnerable guests. With uncertainty rising, some Metro Detroit doctors have given out ways to protect yourselves and the ones you love during the celebration.

“Enjoy your family, enjoy your friends, stay cautious around those that are particularly the highest risk, the youngest kids and the elderly,” said Pediatric Chief of Emergency Dr. Whitney Minnock or Corewell Health East.

To protect others, Minnock says to stay home from the Thanksgiving celebration if you’re sick. Avoiding crowds is also essential, warns Dr. Rudy Valentini at Children’s Hospital of Michigan.

“Young infants and those that have a compromised immune system are the most vulnerable to RSV,” said Valentini. “It’s not gone altogether. So we still have to keep those infants safe and try to keep them away from harm’s way. Don’t keep them out in public where there are sick people. Keep them home where they can be safe.”

For seniors and other high-risk adults, don’t be shy about wearing a mask around others, advises Dr. Dennis Cunningham at Henry Ford Health.

“If you have medical problems, if your immune system doesn’t work, you’re going to have to really think carefully about where you go and what you do,” said Cunningham. “And if you do get in gatherings, that mask is going to be important.”

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving, keep hand sanitizer at the ready and change the bathroom towel frequently. Crack windows for ventilation and offer seats with extra breathing room.

“Think about spacing yourself out, you know, maybe have an extra kids table where you can really separate people out and spread,” Cunningham said. “And I’m not saying that we have to completely eliminate these celebrations. We just have to think about what do we need to do to be safe.”

All of the doctors emphasized the importance of getting vaccinated against the flu and COVID. While it won’t protect you Thursday (Nov. 24), there are lots of holiday events still to come.


About the Authors:

Karen Drew is the anchor of Local 4 News First at 4, weekdays at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. She is also an award-winning investigative reporter.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.