Amid a flurry of cases across the country brought by the Omicron coronavirus variant parts of the country report before the holiday season increased hospital stays and deaths. And you have to be prepared for an increased risk of infection while traveling by taking preventive measures, says Dr. Peter Hotez, Dean of the Tropical Medicine School at Baylor College of Medicine.

“If you’ve only had two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, we know its effects on breakthrough symptomatic illnesses are close to zero, even though this is officially considered fully vaccinated,” Hotez told CNN’s Amara Walker on Saturday.

The initial two-dose regiment will still “provide better protection against serious illnesses,” he said, “but you still need to be freshened up, I think, if you want to travel safely.”

It may take two weeks for booster shots to be deployed maximum immunity, doctors have said the sooner you get vaccinated, the better. Other steps including wearing a high quality mask can help reduce the risk of infection.

Millions of immunocompromised Americans should postpone future travel plans for a few weeks if possible, in hopes the current surge won’t last as long as previous ones, Hotez said.

And because of Omicron’s contagiousness, “even if you get boosted, you have to grapple with the possibility that you could get a breakthrough symptomatic illness from airports and Ubers,” he said.

The US has nearly 62% of its total population fully vaccinated, putting millions at higher risk of serious illness and death from Covid-19 if left unvaccinated. according to dates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And more than 31% of those vaccinated received additional doses or boosters. Even if early research suggests that Omicron can cause less serious illness as the Delta variant, the recently discovered strain is highly contagious and threatens to drain health care resources, officials and experts warned. A hallmark of the season was the lack of Covid-19 test kits – a crucial tool in trying to contain the fast-moving virus.Air traffic on Christmas Eve is well below 2019 levels as flight cancellations have increased due to the surge in Omicron cases

Dr. Jeremy Faust, an emergency doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said that while there is always a risk of contracting the virus while traveling, there are containment measures.

“So if someone in your orbit or in your circle has been exposed or infected, you don’t need to assume that everyone is affected. Keep doing things like wearing masks around people or testing, “Faust told CNN’s Boris Sanchez Saturday.

And Faust advises travelers to look for “the weak links in the chain”.

“It’s not necessarily the actual plane itself. It could be the airport line in the bathroom where you need to be extra careful with masks and other mitigation measures,” he said. “And I think, depending on the threshold, you have to adapt accordingly.”

Treatment options for Omicron. closely

With millions of trips, Omicron was partly responsible for that too Cancellations on Christmas weekend of approximately 1,700 flights in, to, or out of the United States, according to flight tracking website FlightAware. Airlines, including Delta and United, said they were doing that because of Omicron dominant variety in the US last week when officials announced a new wave of measures to combat the spread.There's a new drug out there to help prevent Covid-19, but there won't be nearly enough for Americans to be eligible

And as for the fight against Omicron, there is currently a monoclonal antibody treatment in place that is expected to still be effective against the strain, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in a statement Thursday.

It was “unlikely” that the treatment known as REGEN-COV or the combined use of bamlanivimab and etesevimab would “maintain efficacy” against Omicron, the statement said. This means that sotrovimab is the only monoclonal antibody treatment currently available to combat the Omicron variant.

The assistant secretary’s office for preparedness and response has stopped allocating the other monoclonal antibody therapies and 300,000 additional doses of sotrovimab will be available in January, the agency said.

The US is too experience a deficiency the monoclonal antibody treatment Evusheld, which is only given to people with a weakened immune system and without active Covid-19 infections. Federal officials bought up to 700,000 doses of the preventive drug – enough to help just a tenth of the estimated seven million people who are eligible.The Covid-19 vaccine will be given in a pop-up clinic in the international arrivals area of ​​Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California on December 22, 2021.

Minorities are still at higher risk for the most serious consequences of Covid-19

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, racial and ethnic minorities have borne the brunt of Covid-19 – be it through illness, deaths or economic struggles.

Almost two years later, some of these differences persist.

Racial and ethnic minorities who had other health problems and who became infected with Covid-19 had, according to a. more likely to have a higher hospital mortality rate than white patients Study published on Thursday in the JAMA health forum. Latinos still crawling in New Jersey due to Covid-19 are on high alert over Omicron

The study, which collected data from more than 14 million hospital admissions among Medicare beneficiaries between January 2019 and February 2021, found a decrease in hospital admissions without Covid-19 and an increase in hospital admissions related to Covid-19 across the board.

But “the average hospitalization rate of black and Hispanic Covid-19 exceeded that of white beneficiaries through February 2021,” researchers wrote.

“Beneficiaries hospitalized with Covid-19 were more likely to come from racial and ethnic minorities compared to hospitalized patients with prepandemic,” they also noted.

The “persistently increased disparity” in non-Covid-19 mortality may be related to factors including differences in access to Covid-19 testing, access to care, and changes in case mix and quality of care related to pandemic factors, the authors wrote .

At Covid-19 hospital admissions, death rates in black patients were not “significantly different” from white patients, but mortality in Hispanic patients increased by 3.5 percentage points.

The researchers suggested that a “spillover effect” that increased hospital admissions for Covid-19 may have shifted the distribution of hospital resources, “potentially increasing racial and ethnic differences in outcomes”.

For hospital admissions not related to Covid-19, the death rate in black patients rose nearly 0.5 percentage points more than in white patients, “a 17.5% increase over the prepandemic death rate in inpatient black patients”.

CNN’s Virginia Langmaid and Elizabeth Cohen contributed to this report.