Pasadena Public Health Department Shares Tips for a Healthy Thanksgiving

Photo of family sitting at outdoor table enjoying dinner and conversationPASADENA, Calif.—Pasadena Public Health Department (PPHD) encourages the public to continue to reduce everyone’s risk for COVID-19 infection during Thanksgiving celebrations. If everyone attending is fully vaccinated, the risk of the COVID-19 virus being transmitted is significantly reduced. The safest option is to gather in person with members of your household only and to celebrate virtually with other family and friends, especially if you have loved ones with weakened immune systems or who are not fully vaccinated and at high risk of severe COVID-19 disease.

For people wishing to celebrate in person, the following suggestions provide added layers of protection:

  • Encourage everyone ages 5 years and older to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. This includes recommended additional doses or booster doses. Encourage everyone to get their flu vaccine too.
  • Stay local until everyone in your household is fully vaccinated. If you travel with unvaccinated family members, including young children, follow Centers for Disease Control (CDC) travel guidance. This includes testing 1-3 days before travel, testing 3-5 days after travel, and self-quarantine after travel for unvaccinated people.
  • Gather outdoors if possible. Outdoors is safer than indoors, especially when masks are off for eating and drinking. If you can, plan to have at least the meal and drinks outside. If outdoors isn’t possible or practical, improve the air flow indoors. Open windows and doors, use fans and portable air cleaners, run heating and air. Be sure to upgrade or replace filters.
  • Keep your gathering small. Avoid mixing with many different families. Don’t be afraid to ask about people’s vaccination status and recent risks before joining a Thanksgiving gathering.
  • Stay away if sick or have had a positive COVID-19 test within the past 10 days. If you are sick or have symptoms (even mild symptoms), get tested and stay away from others. Don’t host or attend the in-person gathering.
  • Get a COVID-19 test before joining others. This extra layer of precaution is a good idea if you are gathering with people who are at high risk of severe illness from COVID, especially if you or others at the gathering are not fully vaccinated or have been in crowded indoor places in the past two weeks.
  • Wear face masks when gathering indoors with people not from your household, except when eating and drinking. Bring a mask to wear outside if the gathering is crowded, especially with people who are unvaccinated or are at increased risk of severe disease (e.g. older adults and those with certain medical conditions).
  • Keep your distance while eating, unless everyone is fully vaccinated. Set the tables so that people sit with others from the same household where possible and provide distance between non-household members. This is especially important if eating indoors.
  • Take extra precautions if you will be gathering with people from other parts of the country or from different households that include unvaccinated people or those at high risk of severe illness.
  • Keep your COVID-19 risk low for a couple weeks before (e.g. avoid crowded indoor spaces) and/or get tested before joining the group. Plan to get a viral test as close to the event as possible. A rapid test, including a self-test, could be used for this purpose. If you get a laboratory PCR test, make sure that the result will be back in time.
  • Keep hands clean. Clean hands before and after preparing food. Have hand sanitizer available for guests. Remind children to not touch their face or eat with unclean hands. Consider having assigned servers to reduce the number of people touching shared serving utensils before eating.

Remember that COVID-19 spreads more easily in closed spaces with poor airflow, crowded places where there are many people from different households, and close contact settings especially where people are talking or laughing close together. Lower your risk by avoiding these settings.

Everyone ages 5 and over should get vaccinated against COVID-19. Getting vaccinated remains the single best way to protect yourself and your family against COVID-19. For more information and to register for upcoming clinics, visit the PPHD website or

Stay connected to the City of Pasadena! Visit us online at; follow us on Twitter at @PasadenaGov, and Instagram and Facebook at @CityOfPasadena; or call the Citizen Service Center Monday through Friday during business hours at (626) 744-7311.

Recipe for Thanksgiving 2021 graphic containing list of tips to reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission