MURRAY, Utah (ABC4) – As millions gear up for ​Christmas gatherings next week, the country is bracing for a COVID-19 surge fueled by the rapidly spreading omicron variant. Doctors at the Intermountain Medical Center in Murray are addressing how quickly the new strain is spreading.

Doctors at the Intermountain Medical Cente say with cases in the United Kingdom and South Africa rapidly growing, Omicron could overtake Delta as the dominant COVID variant in the coming weeks. But doctors are confident that vaccines will be effective against the new variant.

During Thursday’s monthly briefing Governor Spencer Cox sent a sobering reminder to Utahn’s saying “It’s never fun to be in the Intensive Care Unit, and especially at Christmas.”

​Hospitals are still seeing an alarming number of patients suffering from COVID, among other respiratory illnesses and as the Omicron variant grows, doctors say so will that number of Utahns in the hospital.

Dr. Brandon Webb, Infectious disease physician at Intermountain Healthcare says, “The Omicron variant will significantly burden the healthcare system because of ​its transmissibility.”

Dr. Webb says recent testing suggests that about 3% to 6% of recent cases are more than likely of the Omicron variant.

Health officials stand firm that vaccination remains at the core of protection from Omicron.

“In order to be protected you need to have two doses of ​vaccine, so you have three experiences with the virus,” says Webb.

And if you’ve had your two doses, doctors say the time is now to get your booster ahead of any gatherings with families. Dr. ​Webb also says it’s not a bad idea to get tested before any holiday get-togethers as it is the best form of identifying symptoms and preventing possible spread

​Ultimately, as Utah prepares for the dominance of the Omicron variant, doctors say always know your risk of becoming infected

“With Omicron on our doorstep, I strongly encourage you to be vaccinated,” says Webb.

Health Officials urge Utahns to be cautious and responsible with the holidays coming up. If you’re feeling symptoms get tested and simply don’t gather with family.