SYOSSET, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – With more and more people getting vaccinated, families are beginning to ask when is it safe to visit grandparents? Can family gatherings be indoors?

As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reports, there were emotional moments for the Urena family.

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Xavier Urena, 10, has only seen his grandparents through a door for nearly a year.

“I just miss being by them and being able to be less than six feet away from them,” Xavier said.

His mother is now vaccinated, and his grandparents will soon get theirs, but there will be no reunion anytime soon.


“How safe really is that for them? Xavier goes to school three days a week. I’m at work,” said Kelly Urena.

Her caution is backed by science. With millions fully vaccinated, maskless indoor close quarter gatherings are still not advised, even if the whole guest list is vaccinated.

“You could still potentially get and give COVID to each other, and then you could spread it to other family members, other loved ones. It could be a mild or moderate case for you, and some people will still end up with that severe case,” said Dr. Michael Green of Northwell Go-Health Urgent Care.

Green says until enough people are vaccinated and community spread plummets, it’s important to still play it safe.

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“Highly ventilated areas are the best thing, and still socially distancing,” Green said.


Because COVID is so new and can spread asymptomatic carriers, experts don’t know if those inoculated can transmit it. So family celebrations like a birthday held in a garage for 88-year-old Robert Stearns, with his own personal cake and handwarmers, are not going away just yet.

“In terms of anything more intimate and closer, no, I’m not ready,” Stearns said. “I’d rather be safe than sorry.”

Francine Slade got her shots.

“I haven’t seen my friends in over a year,” she said. “I want to be cautious and still wear a mask until this is dying out.”

“I think even with the shots, we’re going to be careful,” Slade added.

So when will we be able to ditch the masks, close the windows and celebrate life in person?

The CDC has to decide when the nation has reached herd immunity – somewhere between 70-90% of the population will need to be vaccinated.

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Another reason why caution is still so important: The more a virus spreads, the more likely it is to mutate, and the vaccine may not be protective against all new strains.

Carolyn Gusoff