HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The country continues to see more cases of the Omicron variant, while there still haven’t been any detected in Alabama, state health officials say it’s only a matter of time before we see our first official case of the variant.

With families gearing up for the holiday season, there is still a lot that we don’t know about the variant.

Wes Stubblefield, with the Alabama Department of Public Health, says we should keep that in mind during the holidays.

“Making sure that when they visit family members out of town or have family members from out of town that they’re looking out for those symptoms of illness, protecting those that are most vulnerable,” Stubblefield said, adding that many health officials would agree, “Above all, being vaccinated, right now there is no evidence that the new variant will not be like Delta and the vaccine will not be effective.”

Starting Monday, the White House is requiring all travelers entering the United States to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test, within one day of boarding their flight.

“The concern with this new variant is that there have been mutations noticed in the virus that might make it able to evade our immune system regardless if you’ve had the vaccine or natural infection and or make it more transmissible from one person to another,” Stubblefield said.

Of course, canceling travel plans isn’t always easy, but if you do plan to travel this holiday season, there are several things Stubblefield says you should keep in mind.

“If you feel sick, don’t travel, make sure you’re up to date on your vaccine, whatever that means to you, whether it’s the first dose or booster, make sure that you keep your hands clean, that you avoid large groups in small spaces. Do all the things that we’ve talked about before, masks are so important.”

Stubblefield says none of these things work just by themselves, they work together, he recommends masking up, social distancing and being vaccinated.