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Medical experts say it's important to assess the risk of guests before gathering for Thanksgiving

Medical experts say you'll need to assess your own personal risk and be willing to ask your guests about their vaccination status

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — With the wide availability of COVID vaccines, this Thanksgiving will look a lot different than in 2020.

At Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, they are expecting 85,000 people to depart between this weekend and Thursday. That’s a 50% increase over last year. But despite the availability of vaccines, medical experts say gatherings are still a risk.

Dr. Ulysses Wu of Hartford HealthCare said vaccines “definitely do a better job at preventing transmission than being unvaccinated,” but they are not fool-proof.

In fact, 30% of those hospitalized for COVID-19 in Connecticut are vaccinated. That percentage has been slowly increasing as immunity wanes. Doctors have said it points to the importance of booster shots and the importance of COVID testing. Bradley Airport does have an onsite testing booth.

FOX61 caught up with some Thanksgiving travelers at Bradley Airport.

Laura Gelman was heading to Florida. Last Thanksgiving, she said she was under quarantine after being exposed to her brother.

“He came back with COVID so we all had to quarantine and we didn’t have Thanksgiving,” Gelman said.

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Some people plan on expanding the guest list.

“I’m going to be with a lot of my family where last year, I was just with my close family and friends,” remarked Abby Quick of Jacksonville, Fla.

Meanwhile, others said vaccines won’t be part of the table talk.

“I think most people will probably try to limit the conversation about vaccinations at the Thanksgiving table, but if that’s what they want to do, they can throw mashed potatoes at each other,” said Scott Howell of Huntsville, Ala.

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But the medical experts at Hartford HealthCare say it's important to ask the uncomfortable question to assess your personal risk.

Dr. Wu says he agrees that vaccines are, “a personal choice. But people forget the dot dot dot. And the dot dot dot is a personal choice with societal implications.” He continued, “It is going to cause division among some families, and in other families, it’s not going to really be a big deal and they will have those courageous conversations.”

If you are traveling, it’s a good idea to bring your CDC COVID vaccine card, although being vaccinated is not required for domestic flights.

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International rules will vary depending on your destination, but masks are still required.

“At airports nationwide and onboard aircraft, face coverings are required. They are now federally mandated and that mandate is in place through January of next year,” remarked Alisa Sisic, the public information officer for the Connecticut Airport Authority.

Matt Caron is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at mcaron@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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