(WKBN) – The omicron variant is on the rise but it’s not stopping people from going to see family for the holidays. A local doctor says that isn’t a bad thing but people should still take precautions when it comes to COVID-19 and their general health.

“We can travel and begin realizing we’re going to gather with family and friends, some of whom we haven’t seen for a while. It’s really important that we do that. It’s really important that we gather from a social standpoint, from a cultural standpoint. We need to be with each other and that’s really, really important,” said Mercy Health CCO Dr. James Kravec.

Dr. Kravec still recommends everyone get the vaccine, but brought up a good point — it’s not foolproof.

“The vaccine will not 100 percent stop the chance of you contracting COVID or you ending up in the hospital. But what we do know is the vast majority, 90 percent of those in the hospital, at this point, are unvaccinated,” Dr. Kravec said.

With that being said, emergency rooms and EMS responders are tied up, so people should expect longer wait times.

“We are experiencing at the local hospitals, at Mercy Health in the Mahoning Valley and really all over Ohio, especially in our zone one in northern Ohio, we are at the highest level of hospitalizations that we’ve seen the entire year,” Dr. Kravec said.

It’s also suggested to pack masks, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes and keep several days supply of medications on you if you plan to go on an extended trip.

“We’ve learned in the last two years with supply chain that we really have to appropriately keep enough supplies for ourself, and medication is probably the most important medical area to make sure you have enough supply of,” Dr. Kravec said.

And if you’re on the fence about whether to gather with family and friends, Dr. Kravec says to do what you’re comfortable with.

“It’s really important to have tolerance with each other and with our family members and friends about what some people are more comfortable with and what some people are less comfortable with,” Dr. Kravec said.