DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN)– Concerns over pending holiday gatherings are rising with cold weather starting to push people indoors. Some health leaders say relying only on vaccines for health safety may not be the best idea. Chief Medical Officer of Miami Valley Hospital, Dr. Roberto Colon, said it is too early to predict what the holidays will look like, even fully vaccinated gatherings.

“I do think there is a bit of mixed messaging while trying to get back to normal, while trying to balance it with protection,” said Dr. Colon.

Health leaders say a new variable is in play this year, COVID-19 vaccines. These vaccines were not available for the holiday season in 2020; however, right now, not all age groups are eligible to be vaccinated leading to hesitancy of indoor gatherings. Dr. Colon is optimistic Ohio has reached its peak in cases, but still expects a slight bump once activities start to move indoors.

“We are going to see a bit of an increase when we go indoors because the distance required for transmission, we’re going to get closer will increase the opportunity for that,” said Dr. Colon.

If current trends stay the same, Dr. Colon believes the combination of fully-vaccinated and masked gatherings may be the key to a safe holiday season.

“If we are going to be gathering for the holiday, the vaccines are really going to be the way to have a safe holiday getting together with families and will be a big difference from last year when we were telling people to avoid gatherings,” said Dr. Colon.

At this time, the coronavirus dashboard shows nearly 55-percent of eligible Ohioans have started the vaccination process.