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Should you be changing holiday plans amid rising COVID cases?

A Senior Scholar at Johns Hopkins said if you're vaccinated and boosted holiday travel becomes an acceptable risk.

WASHINGTON — As COVID-19 cases spike across the country, and the D.C. metro area, there have been long lines of people urgently trying to get tested ahead of the holiday.

Several people in line at one of D.C.'s testing sites Monday evening said they were vaccinated and boosted, yet wanted to take an extra precaution before their holiday travel.

“I think it’s easily said that you have anxiety," Linda Ertz said while waiting for her pre-travel COVID-19 test. "You’re hearing about the omicron [variant] and how it’s passing much faster than they expected. We only heard about it a few weeks ago and now it’s becoming something that’s maybe more dominant than the delta."

WUSA9 asked Dr. Amesh Adalja is a Senior Scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security if people should change their holiday plans amid surging COVID-19 cases and increased anxiety over the virus.

“There’s no one size fits all answer to a question like that," Adalja said. "It really depends on a person’s risk tolerance because omicron and COVID-19 are a fact of life, this is something that’s not going to go anywhere and I think if you’re someone whose fully vaccinated you can rest assured that any breakthrough infection you get and remember breakthrough infections are going to be inevitable with omicron, is going to be mild."

RELATED: Natural immunity? Milder symptoms? Answering questions on the omicron variant

Dr. Adalja said if you have your booster holiday travel is something that he believes becomes an acceptable risk.

"For this holiday season, I think you have to actually look at each person’s risk tolerance and then they can make a decision on what risks are worth it and I think for most people if you’re fully vaccinated this is a risk that’s probably worth it," Adalja said. "I think there’s no problem with people gathering like this. We know all of us are going to get this at some point in time and it’s not something that we can avoid. The goal is to get it after you’re vaccinated so it’s mild.”

Credit: WUSA
There were long lines at COVID-19 testing centers at the start of the holiday week.

Adalja said for folks getting a booster it takes about two weeks to see the full effects.

As for testing ahead of holiday travel or gatherings, he said rapid tests are best when you don't have symptoms and solely looking to test if you're contagious to others. 

"A PCR test is not the right test for screening asymptomatic individuals," Adalja said. "Rapid tests are enough to provide the answer can I be around other people, am I safe to be around other people."

RELATED: Omicron now causing 73% of US COVID-19 cases

Adalja said the best time to get tested is just prior to an event you're getting tested for. 

"The closer that test to the event you’re going to the most useful it will be in determining your contagiousness," Adalja said.

As for holiday travel for vaccinated individuals, Adalja said you shouldn't be worried.

“If you’re a fully vaccinated individual you can be assured COVID-19 does not pose a major risk to you," Adalja said. "I think we have to get to a point where we realize that the post-pandemic world is not going to be like 2019. It’s going to be a world in which COVID-19 is a risk you’re going to have to navigate and the vaccines make it extremely easy to navigate.”

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