National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday that families who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 should “feel good” about gathering for the holidays this year.
Speaking about the future of the pandemic at the Bipartisan Policy Center, the chief medical adviser to the president joined former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, former Baltimore health commissioner Dr. Leana Wen and former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams.
“If you get vaccinated and your family’s vaccinated, you can feel good about enjoying a typical Thanksgiving, Christmas with your family and close friends,” he said, adding: “when you’re with your family at home, goodness, enjoy it with your parents, your children, your grandparents. There’s no reason not to do that.”
However, while vaccination remains the best way to protect against the disease, Fauci advised additional precautions to stop the potential for coronavirus spread.
As vaccinations continue, with the count of those fully vaccinated now totaling more than 195 million, hospitalizations have picked up in states around the country – mainly made up of unvaccinated patients.
In an attempt to fend off additional outbreaks and an expected winter surge, state officials have urged COVID-19 vaccine providers to make booster shots widely available to most adults.
U.S. health officials have yet to authorize booster shots for all adults, but current federal guidance says they may be taken by anyone age 65 or older, or who has an underlying health condition or lives and works in a “high-risk” setting.
Most recently, children ages 5-11 became eligible for the vaccine.
Increasing cases fueled by the highly transmissible delta variant have put pressure on vaccination efforts and Fauci also urged everyone eligible for a booster to get one.
Doing so, he said, could “go a long way to make 2022 much more of a normal year than what we’ve seen in 2021.”
“This will end, we are not going to be going through this indefinitely,” Fauci said. “How quickly we get to the end depends on us, how well we vaccinate, how well we get boosted and how well we do the kinds of things to protect ourselves. So that’s my message to the general public.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report