WASHINGTON - The COVID-19 pandemic is not over, but Dr. Anthony Fauci said it doesn’t need to hinder vaccinated people from gathering for holiday celebrations this year.
Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and chief medical advisor to Biden, made the rounds Sunday morning with national media outlets. He told ABC News that vaccinated families can safely enjoy the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings.
Just a week ago, he gave his blessing to vaccinated families who want to take their kids trick-or-treating this Halloween — a tradition deemed unsafe by medical experts last fall.
"That’s one the reasons why we emphasized why it’s so important to get vaccinated, not only for your own safety, for that of your family, but also for the good of the community, to keep the level of infection down," he said. "When you do that, there’s no reason at all why you can’t enjoy the holidays in a family way, the way we’ve traditionally done it all along."
Top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci responds to accusations by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., as he testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, July 20, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo by J. Scott
Even though he has been largely encouraged by the downward trend of coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths across the nation, Fauci isn’t ready to clear holiday gatherings for the 66 million unvaccinated Americans.
"When you're in the family unit, among people who are vaccinated, I think you should just enjoy the holidays as best you can in the family spirit," Fauci told FOX News Sunday. "For those who are not vaccinated, first, I would encourage them very strongly to get vaccinated, but if they're not, they should do what the CDC recommends," which includes wearing a mask indoors.
Much of the downward trend can be attributed to an increase in the country’s vaccination rate. The United States is averaging more than 1 million vaccinations a day again, now that Pfizer’s booster shot is available. And it could soon tick even higher now that an FDA panel has cleared booster shots for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
"The information, which is critical information, that we're getting from Israel, is very, very clear that there's waning immunity and that we do need to boost individuals who've received any of the three products that we've been dealing with right now," Fauci explained.
Still, there is a case to be made for vaccine mandates contributing to America's decline in COVID-19 cases.
Fauci has long been a supporter of vaccine mandates, characterizing them as the most efficient path out of the pandemic. But he is non too pleased with the moves Texas is making to ban such mandates.
Last week, Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott banned any entity in Texas from mandating a COVID-19 vaccine. The move undercuts a recent executive order by President Joe Biden that required businesses with at least 100 workers to require proof of vaccination or weekly COVID-19 testing from employees.
Fauci told FOX News Sunday it is "really unfortunate" to see Texas blocking them.
"From a public health standpoint, that is really unfortunate, because we know how effective vaccines are in preventing not only illness for the individual, but for diminishing the dynamics of the infection in society. The data are clear," Fauci told Chris Wallace.