NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As we move into the holiday season, a time we thought the COVID-19 pandemic might be easing, it’s actually a more confusing time.

How worried should you be about the Omicron variant? Do you really need a booster vaccine? What test should you get?

READ MORE: Pfizer Begins Study Of COVID Vaccine Geared Toward Omicron Variant

CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez has some answers.


At top of many people’s minds is COVID testing before going off to their friends’ and family gatherings, especially because many test are in short supply.

FIND TESTING SITES: Click here for New York City’s testing site locator, including mobile sites and at-home appointments

One common question is, “If I can’t get a PCR test, which is the most accurate but may now take days to get results, should I get a couple of different home drug store tests to compare results?”

That’s your best option right now, but realize that even though the home tests are pretty good, they do have a greater possibility of returning either a false negative or false positive result.

READ MORE: New York State Supreme Court Strikes Down Gov. Kathy Hochul's Mask Mandate

AVOID THE LINES: Click here for NYC Health+Hospitals testing wait times

Try to get tests using different technology, and follow instructions carefully. Try to test as close to your gathering as possible, and if you’re positive follow Centers for Disease Control guidelines for isolating or quarantining.


But some new studies from Europe and South Africa suggest that COVID from the Omicron variant is relatively mild, so, if it’s mild, many have asked, “Should I worry about catching it?”

Mild or not, there’s still the risk of developing so-called “long COVID,” persistent symptoms for months or longer. And some cases could still be serious, so it’s a chance you shouldn’t take.

And finally, another common question is, “If the Omicron strain is mild, why should I get vaccinated?”

MORE NEWS: New York Seeing Progress In Fight Against Omicron Surge

While it’s not entirely clear, it’s likely that mild Omicron cases were in vaccinated individuals. Unvaccinated people might still develop serious disease. Vaccines have been shown to provide the strongest immunity against Omicron and Delta variants.

Dr. Max Gomez