Dr. Fauci Warns Vaccinated People Not to Gather Before Doing This
This new recommendation comes as Omicron spreads ahead of the holidays.
While there were countless warnings made to cancel celebrations this time last year, health officials have largely already given the green light for holiday gatherings this winter. In fact, millions already traveled to join family and friends for get-togethers this Thanksgiving. But now that a new variant is circulating, it feels like everything is back up in the air. The Omicron variant has already been detected in 20 states, according to The New York Times, and experts have said it is almost certainly circulating in other parts of the country as well. While officials are not yet putting their foot down on Christmas and New Year's celebrations, some are giving new advice on how to gather more safely in light of this potentially more infectious new variant.
During a Dec. 8 interview on Washington Post Live, top White House COVID adviser Anthony Fauci, MD, discussed recent developments in the COVID pandemic with Frances Stead Sellers, a reporter for The Washington Post. According to Fauci, not much needs to change for vaccinated people in terms of gathering for the holidays amid the new variant, as long as they're with other fully vaccinated individuals.
"When you get vaccinated and you have a vaccinated group and you are in an indoor setting, you can enjoy, as we have traditionally over the years, dinners and gatherings within the home with people who are vaccinated," he explained.
But now that Omicron is spreading, the infectious disease expert said that vaccinated people should take extra precautions to make sure they're not surrounding themselves with people who are still unvaccinated.
"People should, if they invite people over their home, essentially ask and maybe require that people show evidence that they are vaccinated, or give their honest and good faith word that they have been vaccinated," Fauci told Sellers.
Omicron aside, Fauci noted that there are already plenty of reasons to be extra cautious. As the virus expert pointed out, the U.S. is currently in the middle of a surge from the Delta variant, with around 100,000 new daily cases, 50,000 hospitalizations, and more than 1,000 deaths per day.
"Under those circumstances, what you need to do is to mitigate," Fauci said. "Namely, if you are in an indoor, congregate setting, wear a mask. Be prudent. You're going to be traveling, likely, for the holiday season. You get to an airport, you get to an indoor setting where you don't know the vaccination status of the people around you, be prudent and wear a mask."
Vaccination remains the key tool in preventing the spread of COVID, no matter which variant you might be exposed to, Fauci explained. "You know, there are some fundamental, core principles that will not change regardless of what happens, regardless of whether we get a surge or not or a new variant or not, and that is that we have at our disposal an extraordinarily effective and safe tool, and that is vaccines," he told Sellers.
He added, "So if you're not vaccinated … please, for your own safety, for that of your family, and for your communal responsibility of getting this outbreak under control, get vaccinated. [And] if you have been fully vaccinated and you're eligible for a boost given the timing of your vaccination, by all means, get boosted."