Those with weakened immune systems may not be fully protected even if they are fully vaccinated and have received an additional dose, the agency said, so they should continue to take all precautions recommended for unvaccinated people.
“The challenge is that everyone has their own risk tolerance level,” Dr. Jetelina said. “Someone that doesn’t want to get infected at all? Then no, they shouldn’t hop on a plane.” But by taking the right precautions, she added, you can reduce your risk.
Dr. Murray is taking a more conservative approach this holiday season.
“Omicron really drives home for me the importance of deciding not to travel this winter,” she said. “So I am staying home.”
For her, the risks of either contracting or spreading Covid right now are too high. Although the vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, they are not perfect, she said, and the family members she would be visiting this Christmas have young children who are not yet eligible for vaccination.
She recommended taking stock of your specific situation. For example, do you live in an area with a high proportion of Covid cases? Are you traveling to an area that has a high proportion of cases? Will you be gathering with a large group or a small group? Are you eating inside or outside? It’s also important to take into consideration whether the people you’ll be seeing are vaccinated and boosted; if you’re planning to visit more than one home; and the availability of rapid tests for yourself and your loved ones.
How do you weigh loneliness?
Families should think about the mental health ramifications of staying apart, an important consideration that often gets lost when examining the risks of contracting the virus.
“I think you have to make up a pro and con list, not only about physical safety, but also emotional needs,” said Barbara Greenberg, a clinical psychologist in Fairfield County, Conn. “Will it be harder for you to see your family? Or will the anxiety of not seeing them weigh more heavily?”
In her practice, she added, “person after person are talking about how sad they are about spending the holiday without family again,” she said. “Loneliness and isolation are setting in.”