More COVID boosters aimed at those over 18 as doctors offer advice for Thanksgiving gatherings


SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, some are trying to figure out how to have the conversation that they want only those vaccinated to attend the family gathering.

“If we really want folks to be vaccinated as a goal for us to gather safely we need to communicate that expectation,” said Dr. Stephen Thacker, who is the associate medical director at Memorial Health and a pediatrics infectious disease specialist.

Thacker says so many are anxious to see family members this year. He says if you want to gather on Thanksgiving, those not vaccinated could still benefit by getting even one shot in the next week.

“Getting vaccinated now can still provide some protection and benefit and honestly, some reassurance for those who might be at high risk for a poor outcome if they are exposed to COVID-19,” Thacker said.

Two weeks ago, approval finally came to provide the vaccine to children 5 and over. Nationwide, 10% of children have been vaccinated; Thacker says in Georgia, it’s about 4%.

For those fully vaccinated, boosters thus far have been offered mostly to those 65 and older and those with pre-existing conditions. But now, Pfizer is working to get approval to offer a booster to all those over age 18.

“It’s real clear that anyone who’s had the Pfizer vaccine can benefit from getting a booster vaccine six months or so,” said Thacker. “And some states have even taken it upon themselves already to expand who has access to booster shots because they’re dealing with continued surges related to the delta variant.”

Thacker says many in the medical community are hopeful that with children and more adults now being offered the vaccine and booster, families can gather on Thanksgiving with more peace of mind.

“I think, as a framework, there’s probably a recipe for safe holiday gathering this season,” he said. “And to the point of asking about vaccination status, I think a key thing for families is to communicate their expectations to each other.”

Dr. Thacker says COVID patients at Memorial now (4 patients) are very small compared to the number at the height of the Delta variant (a high of 178) a few months ago.

He says medical personnel are hopeful that people can gather over the holiday season without a big spike in cases.

Still, Thacker warns that people traveling to see relatives should still be masking during their travel, i.e. on airplanes and wearing masks in public, such as at large events or shopping malls.

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