Dr. Fauci Just Sent This "Crystal Clear" Warning to All Vaccinated People
The White House COVID adviser said that he no longer wants any confusion on this.
The coronavirus is still circulating throughout the U.S., with numbers on the rise once again. During a Nov. 15 interview with Insider, top White House COVID adviser Anthony Fauci, MD, confirmed that unvaccinated people are likely responsible for the virus' continued spread. Other experts have repeatedly cautioned that unvaccinated individuals are most at risk for infection and severe consequences from COVID, like hospitalization or even death. But that doesn't mean fully vaccinated people aren't completely in the clear right now.
During his interview with Insider, Fauci said conversations of who should and shouldn't get an additional COVID vaccine dose are no longer relevant. The virus expert's goal is now to "make it crystal clear that if you have been vaccinated—go get boosted." He told the news outlet, "Make it really simple. If you had a primary vaccination, get a booster."
Currently, only certain groups of people are officially eligible for booster shots, according to guidelines from both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The agencies say those who originally received either of the mRNA vaccines must be 65 years old and older, or younger and at higher risk for COVID due to medical, occupational, or institutional reasons. Everyone over the age of 18 who received Johnson & Johnson's single-dose vaccine is eligible for a booster as well.
The CDC and the FDA are now looking into expanding these eligibility requirements, according to Reuters. But regardless of any official recommendations, Fauci said he thinks it is "prudent" to go ahead and move the U.S. to a simpler booster campaign. According to the infectious disease expert, this will help strengthen immunity among vaccinated individuals as well as clear up any lingering confusion. "Right now, don't make it complicated," Fauci told Insider.
Most adults who are currently eligible for boosters have not gotten boosted, likely because they're confused about the eligibility requirements, according to Fauci. The latest data from the CDC shows that while more than 30 million have gotten an additional shot, that's only around 15 percent of all fully vaccinated people. And only 36 percent of those 65 years and older have been boosted, despite everyone in this age group being eligible.
"We have got to get almost everybody who's gotten the primary vaccination regimen, we've got to get all of them boosted," Fauci said. "Even though, for the most part, the vaccines absent the boost protect quite well—particularly among younger people—against hospitalization."
Over the last two weeks, cases in the U.S. have increased by 14 percent, per data from The New York Times. It's possible that a spike in hospitalizations and deaths won't follow, as Fauci told Insider that he is optimistic booster shots for all adults will help "keep people out of the hospital" and "keep people from dying."
The infectious disease expert discussed data from Israel—which is usually a few months ahead of the U.S. in terms of real-world research—that he said shows booster shots have nearly zeroed out severe COVID infections and lowered the risk of hospitalization among people over the age of 40 by 93 percent. "The effect of boost is [also] very, very favorable to preventing people from getting infected," Fauci said.
There is one significant concern with expanding booster eligibility this early, however. Some health experts have stressed that it is important for more safety data to be released before certain individuals more at risk for rare but severe vaccine reactions get another shot, like young men under the age of 30 who are at a slightly increased risk of heart inflammation, or myocarditis, after getting an mRNA vaccine.
Fauci told Insider he agrees with this notion, saying that it is crucial to make sure "that all the safety data indicate that the benefit-risk ratio for younger people" will "still weigh heavily in the form of the benefit." But according to the COVID expert, it will be safe for the vast majority of people to get a booster shot.