Dr. Fauci Warns Vaccinated People Not to Do This When Gathering
This new recommendation comes amid the spread of the Omicron variant.
People across the U.S. are deciding right now whether or not they are going to travel and spend the holidays with their loved ones. While virus experts had been encouraging holiday celebrations this year, a new variant of the virus has put the country back into a vulnerable space. The Omicron variant is now dominant in the U.S., increasing infections and accounting for more than 73 percent of cases right now, according to the latest estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). So despite having given the green light on gatherings this winter, virus experts are now offering urgent new advice for these celebrations.
During a Dec. 21 interview on MSNBC's The Beat with Ari Melber, top White House COVID adviser Anthony Fauci, MD, discussed upcoming holiday celebrations amid the fast-spreading Omicron variant. The infectious disease expert is now warning vaccinated people against inviting unvaccinated relatives or friends to gatherings this winter.
"I think we're dealing with a serious enough situation right now that if there's an unvaccinated person, I would say, 'I'm very sorry, but not this time,'" Fauci told MSNBC reporter Alicia Menendez. He added, "Maybe another time, when this is all over."
The infectious disease expert has been more explicit in recommending against having unvaccinated people at holiday gatherings since the Omicron variant emerged. "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 said in a Dec. 8 interview on Washington Post Live.
During a Dec. 22 White House COVID Response Team press briefing, Fauci and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, reiterated that the safest way to celebrate Christmas and New Year's is to be vaccinated and boosted, and gathering solely with others who are as well. But according to the infectious disease expert, even being boosted is not a safe enough protective measure to have a large gathering this season.
"I want to make sure this is not confused with going to a large gathering—and there are many of these—parties that have 30, 40, 50 people in which you do not know the vaccination status of individuals. Those are the kind of functions—in the context of COVID and particularly in the context of Omicron—that you do not want to go to," he confirmed.
According to Fauci, the Omicron variant can affect both vaccinated and unvaccinated people, but those who have not gotten their shots are certainly more at risk. "When you're dealing with any COVID-19 virus, it's a problem, but when you're dealing with [a variant] that spreads so rapidly and you are unvaccinated, the virus is going to going to find you," he warned during his MSNBC interview.
He added, "There are a lot of people that are going to get seriously ill if you are unvaccinated."
Besides having more risk for themselves, unvaccinated people might also spread the virus to their vaccinated family members or friends, especially as Omicron is producing more breakthrough infections. And previous research has indicated that unvaccinated people who get infected with COVID may spread the virus more easily and for a longer amount of time than those that are vaccinated. According to Fauci, this is even more of a reason why unvaccinated people should get vaccinated and not attend gatherings.
"It's the best thing for you and your family but also your societal responsibility to not allow yourself to be a vehicle for spread to someone else who might be very vulnerable," Fauci told Menendez.