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Healthwatch 16: Advice for holiday gatherings

With the omicron variant of the coronavirus spreading fast, some are considering changing holiday plans.

DANVILLE, Pa. — In just a few days, we will gather with friends and family for Christmas. But as the omicron variant of COVID-19 spreads rapidly, many people are second-guessing those holiday plans.

Dr. Alison Brodginski is Geisinger's northeast director of infectious diseases. She says we do not need to reconsider our holiday plans because we are in a different place than we were last year in the pandemic. This year we have vaccines.

"The most important thing we can do when thinking about the safety of our loved ones when gathering for the holidays is making sure that you're fully vaccinated, and if eligible for boosters, that you are receiving them," Dr. Brodginski said.

RELATED: How to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine, booster appointment in Pennsylvania

Because of our location, most holiday gatherings will likely be indoors. Dr. Brodginski recommends small group gatherings and opening windows if possible. She still recommends wearing masks.

"When you are lowering the masks, for example, if you're eating, making sure that six-feet distancing comes to mind."

Many people are using at-home COVID-19 tests. The doctor says this is a good idea, but these tests should not replace vaccines.

"Keeping in mind that tests are not 100 percent, so that should not replace all of those strategies. But it certainly is something that you can consider."

Also, use caution around small children and people who are immunocompromised.

"These are all highly vulnerable individuals," Dr. Brodginski said. "It's important to make sure if you are attending, you are doing everything that you can to protect those around you."

Watch more Healthwatch 16 stories on YouTube.