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Doctors warn against serving up flu, COVID and RSV at your Thanksgiving gathering

Doctors warn against Thanksgiving virus surge
Doctors warn against Thanksgiving virus surge 02:32

SACRAMENTO -- Thanksgiving is almost here and this holiday season will feel like a return to normalcy for many families. 

But health experts say they don't want people to be too quick to move on from some health precautions as other viruses like RSV and flu are making a big comeback. 

COVID-19 fatigue is a very real thing. After more than two years of the pandemic, people are ready to move on and get back to normal. This Thanksgiving, doctors say they hope people don't entirely let their guards down at family gatherings as several winter viruses surge. 

"There's a whole lot of things out there going around but we also have a lot more tools in the toolbox to take care of them," said Dr. Dean Blumberg with UC Davis Health. 

No one wants to go back to the height of pandemic precautions, and thankfully, doctors say drastic steps are not needed this year. But that does not mean everyone can turn a blind eye to the amount of illness spreading.

"We are seeing a rapid rise in the cases of RSV and influenza and a more mild rise in COVID cases. Thank goodness that COVID isn't spiking right now," said Blumberg. 

Ahead of your holiday gathering, Blumberg said one of the most important things to keep in mind is that if you are showing any symptoms, or you are sick, ignoring it is not worth the risk. 

"People really need to think do they really want to be that selfish to maybe transmit to others? Especially if somebody is attending who is really vulnerable. Like a 99-year-old or 104-year-old. Even if they are vaccinated, that could still be a disaster if they get COVID," he said.

Testing for COVID-19 is highly recommended before Thanksgiving, but keep in mind, a negative test does not always mean you are in the clear as you could have something else. 

"If you are sick, just don't attend. You'll do your loved ones a favor by protecting them from exposure," said Blumberg. 

Doctors know that many patients want this to all be a thing of the past. 

"It's very natural to feel pretty exhausted and pretty tired," said Dr. Ignacio Becerra-Licha of Vallejo Medical Center. 

He said he still recommends masking up in crowded places and during air travel. 

"I think it makes sense, especially these days coming up before the holiday, of being a little extra careful," said Dr. Becerra-Licha. 

And while a last-minute vaccination or COVID-19 booster won't provide much protection for Thanksgiving Day, the rest of your holiday season will be safer. 

"Get vaccinated, and not just against COVID and to get the booster, but also to get the flu shot. I'm definitely seeing an increase of people getting that vaccine this year and it does work," said Becerra-Licha.

The CDC still lists COVID-19 as the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. for 2022 as the country hit a grim milestone of more than 1 million lives lost to the virus. 

As holiday celebrations begin this week, it is not meant to be a message of fear but something to keep in mind to keep your loved ones safe. 

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