Dr. Fauci Urges You to Follow This COVID Precaution Right Now
The infectious disease expert says this is extra important amid the Omicron variant.
The COVID pandemic has been ongoing for nearly two years now, and it shows few signs of slowing down. Earlier in 2021, there was hope that the newly developed COVID vaccines would quickly bring about an end to the pandemic in the U.S., but low vaccinations rates and new variants of the virus have stood in the way. The Delta variant dominated the U.S. over the summer, and now a concerning new variant is circulating the country. In less than a month, Omicron has made its way to at least 30 states, according to The Washington Post. And as it continues to spread, virus experts are urging people in the U.S. to embrace COVID protection measures.
During a Dec. 12 interview on ABC's This Week, White House COVID adviser Anthony Fauci, MD, discussed evolving concerns about the Omicron variant with host George Stephanopoulos. According to Fauci, the new variant's high degree of transmissibility and ability to evade vaccine protection means that the U.S. needs to focus on more COVID precautions right now. This includes vaccinating children, as the infectious disease expert said that low vaccination rates among young kids might be contributing to the country's ongoing surge.
"If your child is 5 years of age and older, please get them vaccinated. We need to protect the children. This idea that children are not vulnerable at all is not so," Fauci told Stephanopoulos. According to ABC, less than one in five children eligible to get a COVID vaccine in the U.S. have been vaccinated so far. This age group has been able to receive their shots since Nov. 2, per the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC).
According to Fauci, children statistically don't tend to be hit with the same level of severity when infected with the virus, but many experts have warned that vaccinating children can help stop the spread of COVID, which will help keep vulnerable adults from getting infected as well. Containing the spread also makes it less likely for more dangerous mutations like those seen in the Omicron variant to develop.
"The virus can transmit easily between unvaccinated children and adults, giving new variants a chance to emerge," the experts at Johns Hopkins explain. "This transmission also provides a chance for the virus to mutate further and create a new variant that might prove more infectious or resistant to the available vaccines and therapies."
Despite having less of a risk for severe COVID, Fauci said that more than two million children ages 5 to 11 have contracted the virus throughout the pandemic. And not all of these cases have been mild. "There have been over 8,000 to 9,000 hospitalizations and well over 100 deaths," Fauci confirmed.
And the latest form of the virus might exacerbate this problem, especially if parents are not taking kids to get inoculated. In South Africa, where the Omicron variant as already taken over, COVID cases are rising among children, per The New York Times. According to experts, this is likely both because of the new variant's increased transmissibility and the fact that children under the age of 12 are not yet eligible for vaccination in South Africa.
"So [vaccinations are] not only good for the health of the child, but also to prevent the spread in the community," Fauci said.