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How to prepare for the holidays as COVID-19 cases rise, new variant spreads

There are four things to focus on before your holiday gatherings: vaccines, testing, travel and masks.

NORFOLK, Va. — COVID-19 cases are climbing as people are getting ready for more holiday gatherings.

As you’re packing your bags and wrapping your presents to be with friends and family for the holidays, there are some things you need to know before you go.

Right now, the Omicron variant has not been confirmed in Virginia, but it’s already causing concerns in other states

Norfolk's Acting Health Director, Dr. Parham Jaberi, said it's just a matter of time. But this holiday season, it’s still the Delta variant we need to worry about.

RELATED: December holiday travel expected to reach near pre-pandemic levels, TSA says

Number one, he recommends getting vaccinated, even if it's just a partial dose.

"Many of the vaccines require two doses. I would say even if you can get a single dose before the holidays, you still have about two weeks to get your immunity and that’s gonna help you."

He also said boosters have become increasingly important, especially going into these colder months when cases are climbing.

"Generally speaking, it's a great idea to get the booster," he says. "They certainly increase everyone’s chances of being able to fight the infection better and potentially not even develop any of the symptoms."

As for travel, Dr. Jaberi said we’re in a very different place from last year and as long as you’re wearing your mask, washing your hands and vaccinated, flying remains pretty safe.

"The people that I’m worried about are those that are unvaccinated," he said.

With testing, the CDC just updated its guidance to say even people who are vaccinated should get a test before they head to an indoor gathering.

"It may not be a bad idea to get tested before you travel and certainly after."

Both Dr. Jaberi and Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, also recommend wearing a mask at an indoor gathering if you don’t know everyone’s vaccination status.

"Be smart about who you are hanging out with and how big your circles are," said Jaberi.

On Thursday, U.S. health authorities said that 16- and 17-year-olds should get a booster dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine once they're six months past their last shot.

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