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Serve Up Health Ground Rules Before Gathering This Thanksgiving



Fresno County Health officials encourage the public to follow safety guidelines and set ground rules for Thanksgiving. (Shutterstock)
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With Thanksgiving a few days away, Fresno County health officials encourage the public to follow safety guidelines because of a taxing winter for health ahead.

“Make sure your guests understand for their own comfort and for yours what exactly the ground rules are so that you don’t have any awkward moments during Thanksgiving gatherings. … “ — Dr. Rais Vohra, Fresno County interim health officer

Dr. Rais Vohra, Fresno County’s top health expert, says there are many ways to plan for a safe holiday feast as long as individuals take the precaution of receiving their vaccine, testing in advance, and masking up.

“Between now and next year, we may be in for a very challenging winter and we need everyone to just really recognize that we have to take care of each other,” said Vohra.

“We will get through this winter more safely if we’re able to just follow these basic precautions which will hopefully still allow us to have the festivities that we all want to have.”

COVID Vaccines and Flu Shots

Before the festivities begin, health officials strongly recommend getting vaccinated, receiving a booster, or the flu shot for added protection.

For some, if it’s been more than a year since getting a flu shot, so now’s the time for one.

For those who have gone longer than six months since their last Pfizer or Moderna COVID vaccine, health officials encourage getting a COVID booster shot as soon as possible. For those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the wait time to receive a booster is only two months.

Check Vaccine Status and COVID Testing

For those wary of having friends and family over, Vohra suggests setting ground rules for guests.

He recommends communicating with guests in advance, and asking to see a vaccine card or a negative test result.

To accommodate for timing, Vohra suggests taking a test three days before any social gatherings take place, and canceling plans if any guests turn up sick.

“Make sure your guests understand for their own comfort and for yours what exactly the ground rules are so that you don’t have any awkward moments during Thanksgiving gatherings, and obviously cancel your plans if you end up being sick and expect the same of your guests,” said Vohra.

Consider Outdoor Celebrations

In the case of medium to large gatherings, county health officials recommend hosting a dinner outdoors.

“Go ahead and make your activities outdoors as much as possible,” said Vohra. “If you are choosing to host indoors or be indoors, make sure that you open all of your doors and windows and really bring fresh air indoors.”

In the case of handling food, whether inside or outside, Vohra recommends washing hands before serving and eating.

Ventilation is key in helping drive down the ability of this virus to find new victims, says Vohra. He also hopes that individuals will put on a mask when doing holiday shopping.

“So remember to wash your hands for so many reasons, especially related to viruses and bacteria,” said Vohra.

Reconsider Travel

For anyone expecting to travel this holiday season, rules will be in place for all public transportation.

Whether you fly, take a train, or drive, states and counties have different rules. So, health officials recommend carrying a vaccine card to show proof of vaccination and keeping a mask handy.

The CDC recommends checking with airlines, buses, and trains on what the rules are for traveling, and whether vaccination proof, masking, or testing is required.

Testing and Vaccination Sites

To help find more vaccination sites near you, check here, visit the MyTurn portal to make an appointment online, or visit your local pharmacy.

Liz Juarez joined GV Wire in July, 2021 as a Digital News Producer. She has experience working for publications around the Central Valley including the Clovis Roundup, Porterville Recorder and Hanford Sentinel. While in college, she interned for Mountain West Athletics and served as Outreach Chair for the Fresno State Radio and Television Digital News Association (RTDNA). Liz earned a bachelor's degree in Media Communications and Journalism at Fresno State and a master's degree in Communications from Arizona State University. In her down time, she enjoys reading, drawing and staying active by playing basketball, taking trips to the coast and visiting national parks. You can contact Liz at