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In America, Thanksgiving marks the biggest and best family-style meal of the year, which means shared dishes, buffet-level spreads, and passing platters of potatoes and baskets of bread around the table.  

It also means communal cooking, crowded kitchens, and sneaking samples of the feast. The holiday’s culinary treats offer plenty of temptation, but behind even the best meal lurk some serious health risks. Bacteria and germs are invisible threats that can make you, your family, and your guests extremely sick if you’re not careful about how you handle and prepare your Thanksgiving fare. 

To protect you and your guests from potential foodborne illness this holiday, follow these food safety tips. 

Cooking for Others 

When cooking for a large number of people (or even a small group), make sure that food is prepared safely. Handling poultry is a wary task no matter the size of the bird, and turkey and chicken are notorious for carrying germs that cause food poisoning. 

If you are making dishes that contain raw eggs (such as eggnog, hollandaise sauce, Caesar dressing, or tiramisu), make sure to use pasteurized eggs. And avoid eating raw dough or batter to elude harmful bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella. As with poultry, use separate work surfaces and containers when handling eggs. 

Wash your hands, countertops, and utensils frequently to prevent the spread of dangerous germs. Clean before, during, and after preparing food to avoid cross-contamination as you prepare a smorgasbord of dishes and protect your guests from foodborne illness. 

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National Family Health History Day

Thanksgiving Day is November 25 this year and will also be National Family Health History Day, which the U.S. Surgeon General established in 2004. With the family gathered, it can be an excellent time to remind each other about check-ups, preventive screenings, and healthy habits. Taking some time on Thanksgiving Day also allows your family to discuss their family medical history. 

Benefits of Knowing Your Family Health History 

Families have several good reasons to discuss their health history. For instance, some diseases run in families. These include diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, and arthritis. Genetic factors also play a role in high blood pressure, stroke, and life expectancy. 

Having a genetic predisposition toward a condition does not mean you will automatically be diagnosed with it. Instead, knowing which diseases family members have can motivate you to engage in preventive care and get early screenings. 

Also, a family health history can help your doctor provide you with the proper preventative care. Being able to track the illnesses of your parents, grandparents, and other relatives enables your provider to advise you on appropriate screenings. 

They can also guide you on ways to prevent certain conditions and help you get the right treatments before serious symptoms emerge. While you cannot change your genes, knowing your family health history can influence your medical outcomes. 

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How Parents Should Approach the Recent Federal Approval of COVID-19 Vaccine for Children 5-11

On November 2, 2021, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that all children ages 5 and older receive a COVID-19 vaccination. More than 11 million older children in the U.S. have already been vaccinated against COVID-19, and this new recommendation further widens the blanket of protection against this formidable public health threat. 

However, despite the CDC’s recent recommendation, if you have young children—or if you’re involved in supporting young children—you may harbor legitimate questions and concerns when deciding whether or not to vaccinate them. It can be daunting to sift through the available information to make the best possible health decision for your family. However, experts note that vaccinating young children is the best decision for children and the communities they live within. 

Here’s what you need to know about the importance of COVID-19 vaccines for the 28 million children in the U.S. who are between the ages of 5 and 11. 

Timeline of the Recent Vaccine Approval 

The CDC’s recommendation of COVID-19 vaccines in the 5 to 11 age group follows the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recent Emergency Use Authorization for the Pfizer vaccine in young children, which was granted on October 29, 2021. The CDC evaluated the research and data from clinical trials involving children and made this decision based on the evidence they saw of vaccine safety and vaccine efficacy in this age group. The same day that the CDC announced its recommendation, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) ushered forward its support and updated its own vaccine recommendations for young children. 

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