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Christmas and COVID: Doctor recommendations to stay safe

Family members are arriving for the holidays this week. There's a new variant raising concerns. Here's what you need to know to stay safe.

TAMPA, Fla. — We're seeing more people take to the skies and the roads this year to spend the holidays with loved ones. With more travel, more opportunity for COVID-19 to continue to spread. 

According to AAA's 2021 Holiday Travel Forecast, nearly 6.4 million people plan on flying and 100 million people plan on driving this holiday season. 

The pandemic has created more obstacles in travel, with mandatory testing and vaccines required for many international flights. Those obstacles haven't stopped people from skipping town though. Compared to last year, AAA found a 35 percent increase in Floridians going out of town for the holidays. 

Dr. Michael Teng, a virologist with USF Health explained how your risk level really depends on where you're visiting. 

"Right now the northeast, the great lakes regions, parts of the plain states, they have pretty high rates of infection, this is mostly delta," Teng said. "So if you're traveling, if you're flying through some of these areas, you're going to have a higher risk."

Your best bet to staying safe: masks, vaccines, and boosters. 

Doctors say getting a booster, even if you won't have the full two weeks for it to become fully effective before the holidays is better than no booster at all. 

Teng said when comes to your immune system, think of it like the rest of your body. It needs to train to prepare for an event. 

"You can say, well, I worked out yesterday so I am ready for my bodybuilding competition," Teng remarked sarcastically. "It doesn't work that way. I played the piano yesterday, You have to keep training your immune system so that it has the ability to fight off the infection."

To find locations to get a vaccine or booster shot in the Tampa Bay area, click here

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