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Traditional Thanksgiving safe for vaccinated, health officials say

Traditional Thanksgiving gatherings safe for vaccinated hosts and guests, say health leaders

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - People reluctant to get vaccinated may want to consider what Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Monday.

"If you get vaccinated and your family's vaccinated, you can feel good about enjoying a typical Thanksgiving, Christmas with your family and close friends," Fauci said.

Santa Barbara County Public Health's Emergency Medical Services Coordinator Matt Higgs agrees with the sentiment of the nation's leading infectious diseases expert.

"Family gatherings are a great time for folks to get together. Over the holidays we have had a rough year, plus. I think people are going to have varying degrees of how they are comfortable," Higgs said. "The best way for you to protect yourself and to protect your family is to make sure you are vaccinated and to talk to your family members and encourage them to get vaccinated as well."

Before the vaccine, outbreaks were often linked to gatherings.

"When we are looking at a group of vaccinated individuals that is always going to be a safer scenario than if you have people who aren't vaccinated gathering together," Higgs said.

He also offers some common sense advice to protect your loved ones and the community from COVID19.

"If you are sick, stay home, get tested, encourage your family not to gather if they are not feeling well and try to keep eachother safe."

From a public health standpoint it is always safer for people getting together to all be vaccinated. People still have time to get vaccinated and boosters before Christmas, too.

People preparing for the holidays said they are looking forward to normal interactions.

Janet Stowell who splits her time between Santa Barbara and Utah home her family will still exercise some caution.

"We will still be a little careful because I don't think our grandchildren have gotten both shots, but we are very excited we can fly to New York and have our Thanksgiving all together," Stowell said.

Stowell's grandchildren are ages 4 and 6. She said the 6-year-old has had one shot, and the 4-year-old is not eligible for the vaccine.

The Santa Barbara Airport is already busy. The long-term parking was full on Monday making it appear the holiday travel surge is already underway.

Dan Sides was waiting for a flight at the airport when he reacted to what Fauci said.

"No masks, you know, everybody enjoy the company even if you have the smaller children because their chances of getting really sick or ill from COVID is so minimal so everybody get together and enjoy your family," said Sides.

Public health officials are encouraging everyone eligible to receive a vaccine to get one and say they are safe, effective and can be gotten free of charge.

To sign up to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, visit your local public health department's website. You can also visit to find somewhere near you to receive the vaccine.

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Tracy Lehr

Tracy Lehr is a reporter and the weekend anchor of NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Tracy, click here

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