Local doctor discusses holiday gatherings amid omicron

Local News

(WKBN) — It’s about a week until Christmas, one of the traditional times of year for families to get together.

With the omicron variant of COVID-19 sweeping the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is keeping the same recommendations: vaccines and boosters before visiting family.

“And you’re not sure if other people in your family have been vaccinated, they’re recommending doing a home test before you travel or before you visit family, just to be on the safe side,” said Family Practice Center of Salem physician Dr. Mike Sevilla.

As the number of cases continue to rise, Dr. Sevilla said he’s not surprised. People are inside more because of the cold, but he added not to worry.

“At least the early data is yes, people are being more infected, cases are going up but we’re yet to see hospitalizations going up, deaths go up, specifically from omicron,” Dr. Sevilla said.

At this point, it doesn’t appear to be nearly as strong as the Delta variant. Dr. Sevilla said the data for the vaccine and booster points to a strong effect.

This time last year, people didn’t spend as much time with family and friends for the holidays, but this year could be different.

“There’s a lot less fear out there. People who have been vaccinated, who have been boosted, they’re feeling fairly confident to visit with family,” Dr. Sevilla said.

While Omicron could become the main variant in the country, Dr. Sevilla tells his patients not to be as worried about it if they’re vaccinated and boosted.

While it feels like a never ending cycle of variants, it’s also not a reason to panic.

“As each variant comes about, it doesn’t mean that each variant is worse than the previous variant,” Dr. Sevilla said.

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