Winter, and the cold weather, meant a huge surge of COVID cases last year. This year, despite the vaccines, it’s happening again. Hospitalizations are also going up, as vaccine immunity wanes and more people go indoors. To help keep you safe, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, appeared on CNN’s State of the Union with Dana Bash. Read on for his five life-saving pieces of advice—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
Are we seeing the start of a “winter wave,” Bash asked, with cases already surging in Europe and rising in America. “Certainly you can’t walk away from the data and the data show that the cases are starting to go up, which is not unexpected, when you get into a winter season and people start to go indoors more,” Fauci warned. “And we know that immunity does wane over time. And that’s when you look and say, what can we do about that? And we still have about 60 million people in this country who are eligible to be vaccinated who have not been vaccinated. And that results in the dynamic of virus in the community that not only is dangerous and makes people who are unvaccinated vulnerable, but it also spills over into the max unaided people because no vaccine is a hundred percent effective. And when you have a lot of virus circulating around, we know that there are breakthrough infections, and that’s how you get the uptick in cases. The bottom line common denominator of all of this data is we should get vaccinated if you’re not vaccinated. And boostered, if you have been vaccinated.”
“Well, my recommendations to Americans to celebrate safely is get vaccinated. As soon as you can. Obviously, if you’re not vaccinated, you’re in a situation where you’re more vulnerable to getting infected, but for the people who are vaccinated, the people who can get boosted, enjoy your holiday season with your family, indoors, grandparents, children do it, but be aware that when you are in a situation where you are traveling, for example, and you are in an indoor congregate setting, and you don’t know the vaccination status of people, you need to wear a mask. But in the family setting, particularly among vaccinated, people enjoy the holiday. That’s Thanksgiving looking ahead to Christmas right now, since we can vaccinate children from five to 11, you start vaccinating them. Now they will be fully vaccinated by the time we get to the Christmas holidays. And that’s what we should be thinking about.”
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Dr. Fauci said if all of your family or friends coming over for Thanksgiving are vaccinated, you can take off the masks. “I just want to underscore something that you just said and make sure that I’m clear on it and our viewers are clear on it. So if you are vaccinated and you’re going to a holiday setting where everybody is vaccinated, it’s okay to be there without a mask?” asked Bash. “Absolutely, absolutely. That’s what I’m going to do with my family. And that’s what I think people should do. You should first make sure you have it. See, that’s the whole point we keep getting back to that is the safety net is vaccination. Take away the anxiety, take away all the concerns about what you should do and not get back sedated. And you could enjoy the holidays very easily. And if you’re not, please be careful, you know, 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.”
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Although the CDC said some people should get a vaccine booster and others “may,” Dr. Fauci says everyone over 18 should get a booster six months after their last dose (if they for Pfizer or Moderna) or two months after their J&J dose. “Absolutely, let’s make it clear,” he said. “If you are 18 or older, and you’ve been vaccinated, fully vaccinated with the Moderna or the Pfizer mRNA six months or more ago, get a booster. If it’s J&J and it’s two months ago or more, get a boost, I don’t think we should get hung up on ‘should,’ ‘may,’ just go out and get boosted. We know they’re safe and we know they’re highly effective in bringing very, very high up the optimization of your protection. So just go ahead and get boosted. Now’s the time to do it. As we’re getting into the holiday season, you want to be fully protected in the sense of getting optimal. I mean, the vaccines themselves clearly are still highly effective, but you want to make sure the durability of that protection is longer. And that’s the reason why you get boosted because we know no vaccine lasts forever. So the protection starts to wane a bit. And that’s what the boost is all about. Bottom line: get boosted.”
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Should the term “fully vaccinated” now mean someone who has had their booster, too. “We’re going to follow that very carefully,” said Dr. Fauci, “and that’s what we mean when we say we let the science and the data follow. So we’re going to take a look right now at what the durability is of the booster. We’re going to follow people who get boosted. We don’t know right now, you have to be perfectly transparent and honest. We’re going to be doing the best we can to keep Americans optimally protected. If that means that that’s going to be a boost that will absolutely everyone will have to have them. So be it we’ll do it that way, but it will be guided by the science and people should not be put off by the fact that as time goes by and we learn more and more about the protection that we might modify the guidelines. That’s what we’ve been saying. Well, along by follow the science things change, and you have to follow the data.”
“Two shots for a timeframe means you are fully vaccinated,” he added, “but the thing that you want to get the people in the view is to understand it isn’t the effectiveness of the vaccine. It’s quite effective. It’s how long it lasts. And that’s the reason when we started to see the immunity start to wane, we said, people should get boosted. And that’s the reason why we’re going to keep following it closely.” In the meantime, get vaccinated or boosted and to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.