Dr Anthony Fauci says masks are not needed during holiday gatherings this year as long as everyone is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says that despite rising cases nationwide, vaccinated people do not have much to worry about during an interview with CNN on Sunday.
However, he did advise Americans to still wear masks while traveling or if they are in another area where there are many people they do not know.
His advice comes as cases are rising across the U.S., but booster shots are becoming widely available as well to combat the upward trend.
Dr Anthony Fauci (pictured) says that it is safe for people to gather without masks for the holidays if they are fully vaccinated. He said to CNN on Sunday that his family, who are all vaccinated, will not wear masks this year
The holiday season comes as cases in the U.S. trend upwards, though unlike last year more than half of Americans are fully vaccinated now, which could help prevent another case surge of that level (file photo)
‘Get vaccinated and you can enjoy the holidays very easily. And if you’re not, please be careful,’ Fauci told CNN’s State of the Union.
‘Get tested if you need to get tested when you’re getting together, but that’s not a substitute for getting vaccinated.
‘Get yourself vaccinated and you can continue to enjoy interactions with your family and others.’
Millions of Americans plan to travel and gather with family members this holiday season, starting Thursday with the thanksgiving holiday.
This week is also one of the busiest weeks of the year for the travel industry, as many flock to their hometowns for the weekend.
Experts say there is some risk to traveling and gathering this holiday season, , but the vaccine should give enough protection for people to feel safe.
Cases are trending upwards in the U.S. at the moment, up nearly 30 percent over the past month, from 73,000 cases a day in late October to 93,000 per day this week.
This same time last year, cases were trending upwards as well, and the holidays ended up kicking off the largest COVID-19 surge to date.
Infections peaked in early January with more than 250,000 cases per day.
Fauci, and other health officials, are hopeful that this year will not be as bad as the last, as now Americans have widely available access to the COVID-19 vaccines.
According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, 80 percent of Americans 12 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 69 percent are fully vaccinated.
Efficacy of the vaccines have been shown to decline over time, though, spurring regulators to authorize vaccine boosters for Americans.
As of last Friday, all Americans aged 18 or older are now eligible for vaccine boosters, at least six months after receiving the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or two months after receiving the Johnson & Johnson jab.
The CDC reports that 20 percent of American adults have received their booster shot as of Monday.
Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told CNN that he and his family, who are all fully vaccinated, will be gathering this year – and will do so without masks.
He said that the rising cases in the U.S. were a result of the virus spreading rapidly among the unvaccinated, then ‘spilling over’ to vaccinated Americans.
‘Get vaccinated if you’re not vaccinated and boostered if you have been vaccinated,’ he said.
Fauci notes that anyone who starts a two-dose vaccine series now will still be able to get fully vaccinated by Christmas, though time is running out.