KANSAS CITY, Mo. — This holiday season is a bit different than last season.
There's a level of protection against COVID-19 this year that's giving people a chance to get back to their holiday traditions.
"Last year for Thanksgiving and Christmas, some of us didn't get together because of COVID, but this year we're kind of going for it," Kansas City-area resident Aaron Limon said Monday.
Many families are feeling the spirit. Now that the COVID-19 vaccine and boosters are available, many people told KSHB 41 News they are less hesitant to get together.
"I think just the normalcy of everyone feeling a bit more comfortable, the vaccines have come out and whether or not you decided to get it or not, I think people have made their decision and we've kind of looked passed it and moved on and I feel like that fear is kind of gone, so it's kind of a bit more comfortable with everyone around you," resident Caroline Strader said.
The pandemic has brought COVID-19, the delta variant and now omicron. Doctors believe the COVID-19 vaccine and booster shots are the best protections, followed by masks and avoiding people if feeling ill.
"I think the science on boosters is pretty strong in terms of showing that even with this omicron variant, it puts you in a much better position to stop that virus from harming you, causing symptomatic illness, and harming the people around you," Dr. Cameron Webb, White House COVID Task Force Sr. Advisor, said Monday in an interview with KSHB 41 News.
While a lot has changed in one year, doctors remain concerned about the spread of COVID-19.
"I think there's a way to safely engage this holiday season that we didn't necessarily have last year, but I think that people still need to be really vigilant," Webb said.
Health officials are monitoring a spike in COVID-19 cases and anticipate holiday gatherings and travel will increase cases nationwide.