Dr. Anthony Fauci says those who are vaccinated against COVID-19 shouldn't hesitate to celebrate the upcoming holiday season with their families — though he says Americans should continue to adhere to masking guidelines when out in the community to keep people safe.
Speaking Monday at an event hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center, the director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases said that those who have gotten their shots could "feel good about" celebrating the upcoming holidays with others.
"If you get vaccinated, and your family is vaccinated, you can feel good about enjoying a typical Thanksgiving, Christmas with your family and close friends," he said.
"When you go to indoor congregate settings, go the extra mile, be safe, wear a mask," he added. "But when you are with your family at home, goodness, enjoy it with your parents, your children, your grandparents. There's no reason not to do that."
In an interview with The New York Times on "The Daily" podcast Friday, Fauci added people who are vaccinated should feel comfortable traveling to celebrate the holidays this year.
"I believe people who are vaccinated, who, when they go into the airport, in a congregate indoor setting, they follow the CDC recommendations and wear a mask, I believe that people can and should travel during the holidays," Fauci said.
However, Fauci warns that people who are still unvaccinated will have a "tough time" this winter.
"I think there is a possibility that you will see an uptick in cases that will be disproportionately borne as a burden among the unvaccinated," Fauci told the Times.
He added that if COVID-19 cases begin to rise in areas with a large number of unvaccinated people, those who are vaccinated may be put at risk.
"As that uptick occurs and you get more infections and more dynamics of infection spread in the community, that would put even the vaccinated at more risk," Fauci told the Times. "Because the more dynamic of infection, the greater likelihood that a vaccinated person, whose immunity might be waning, the greater likelihood that that person will come into contact with someone who is spreading the infection."
Though the mid-summer surge in cases caused by the more transmissible delta variant has subsided, case rates in the U.S. remain elevated. In fact, the seven-day average of daily cases has risen from about 63,000 a day to a current rate of 80,000 a day since late October.
Fauci and other leading health officials continue to encourage all Americans over the age of 5 to seek vaccination against COVID-19. They also encourage anyone eligible to get a booster shot to seek out an additional dose.