Dr. Anthony Fauci has warned that American may need to be prepared to receive a vaccination for COVID-19 every year to protect against infection, but insists that holiday travel is still safe for the vaccinated.
Fauci said it was too early to tell whether an annual ‘booster’ will be needed as new variants emerge, as he spoke with CNN‘s Anderson Cooper during a town hall Wednesday evening.
‘Anderson, to be honest with you, we don’t know. We really don’t. You could say we might have this or we might require this, but we don’t know,’ Fauci said.
‘It may be we get a durability of immunity. Or maybe not, and if it is not, we’ll have to deal with it depending upon how the outbreak and the global pandemic evolves,’ he said.
Fauci “science“ on masks: “they certainly do something.” https://t.co/Buw2rF7Imx
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Fauci added: ‘So the honest answer is we don’t know what’s going to be required. I hope we get a durability protection from the boost that we won’t have to be chasing all the time against the new variant. But that just remains to be seen.’
Fauci, who is President Joe Biden’s top COVID advisor, spoke on the same day that the White House confirmed the first US case of the Omicron variant, which has concerning mutations and is being tracked closely.
It was spotted in San Francisco by a patient who’d recently been to South Africa.
At a White House press conference, Fauci urged everyone who is eligible to get a COVID booster shot as soon as possible.
Americans age 18 and over who received their second Pfizer or Moderna shot at least six months ago, or a Johnson & Johnson shot at least two months ago, are eligible for boosters.
The duration of efficacy of vaccines varies widely. The measles vaccine, for instance, effectively lasts a lifetime, while flu shots are recommended annually to combat quickly evolving strains of the influenza virus.
The lasting efficacy of the mRNA COVID vaccines after what is now a third recommended shot remains to be seen.
On the CNN town hall, Fauci also raised eyebrows by recommending that people who are fully vaccinated, and have a third booster shot, should continue to wear masks in ‘indoor congregate settings’ where the vaccination status of others is unclear.
Despite these warnings, the infectious disease expert insists that it is still safe for vaccinated individuals to travel for the holidays.
‘We just have a problem that’s identifiable now, and just as I said, and I’ll say it again, if you have a vaccinated situation, your family’s vaccinated, enjoy the holidays, indoor with your family in a family setting,’ Fauci said.
‘Many of us will have to travel during the holidays,’ Fauci added. ‘What you do when you travel, you take care.’
‘Travel always increases somewhat the risk of getting infected, but if you wear a mask, particularly when you’re in an airport in the congregate setting you have to wear a mask when you get on the plane,’ he said.
‘And if you can, just get vaccinated as soon as you can, and right now is the time to get boosted.’