DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – With Thanksgiving just days away, medical experts are warning friends and family who will be gathering to still take precautionary measures to protect themselves and others from catching the flu or COVID-19.

“If you’re getting together with your immediate family, certainly that’s the safest environment. When we start growing beyond that, we wanna make sure you’re avoiding some of those gatherings where you have 50 plus people really packed in and no one’s wearing a mask,” said Miami Valley Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Roberto Colon.

After missing out last year due to the pandemic, Greene County resident Meghan Morgan said this year, she and her husband along with their children will be visiting extended family for Thanksgiving. “It’s incredibly wonderful to think that we’ll get to share a meal, and share some time. Just kind of reflect on the blessings that we have this year,” said Morgan.

Now, both Morgan and her husband are fully vaccinated along with their boosters, and all of their children have at least received their first dose. “This year I do feel a little more empowered because of science, and having the vaccine, and having home tests available. That’s something I feel like we just kind of dreamed about last year. Testing felt sporadic,” said Morgan.

In Clark County, Combined Health District Commissioner Charles Patterson says of all county age groups, only about 50% are fully vaccinated. County case numbers are also high. “Last week we saw 299 cases per 100,000, which is one of the higher levels we’ve seen in the last six weeks,” said Patterson.

Those numbers are why Patterson continues to urge families to use precautionary measures while celebrating. “One of the big things we’re asking people to do is stay home if you’re sick. Please test if you’re coming from out of town, a big group from out of town.”

In Montgomery County, Public Health Supervisor Dan Suffoletto says especially before the holidays, it’s important to monitor yourself for any symptoms. “Many of the symptoms for COVID and the flu are very similar. Sometimes it’s hard to initially hard to determine what you have,” said Suffoletto.

Other safety tips recommended for Thanksgiving include outdoor celebrations with heaters, avoiding large crowds, and wearing masks in tight spaces. “It is important that people can remember it’s not just you not just your safety, but safety of others as well,” said Suffoletto.

With many people getting time off from work during the Thanksgiving holiday, Suffoletto says this is the perfect opportunity to either get a COVID-19 vaccination or booster dose.

Click here for Montgomery County Public Health vaccine clinic schedules. Click here for Clark County Combined Health District vaccine clinic schedules.