Fauci: Don't abandon masks, social distancing after getting vaccine

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Defense: White House open to reforming war powers | Army base might house migrant children | Fauci scolds military on vaccine Overnight Health Care: CDC study links masks to fewer COVID-19 deaths | Relief debate stalls in Senate | Biden faces criticism over push to vaccinate teachers Watch live: White House coronavirus response team holds briefing MORE, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, on Sunday recommended continued protections such as wearing masks and practicing social distancing after a coronavirus vaccine becomes available.

CNN’s Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperEx-Trump press secretary criticized for stirring up QAnon on Twitter Maryland GOP governor says he would have voted to convict Trump Democratic senator defends decision not to call witnesses: 'They weren't going to get more Republican votes' MORE asked Fauci on "State of the Union" if "once the process is complete, does that mean [people] can take off their masks, they don't have to social distance, they can just go about their lives as before?"

"I would recommend that that is not the case. I would recommend you have an added area of protection," Fauci replied.

“Obviously, with a 90-plus percent effective vaccine, you could feel much more confident. But I would recommend to people to not abandon all public health measures just because you have been vaccinated, because even though, for the general population, it might be 90 to 95 percent effective, you don't necessarily know, for you, how effective it is,” he added.

Fauci added that once he receives the vaccine, he's "not going to abandon completely public health measures."

"I could feel more relaxed, in essentially not having the stringency of it that we have right now, but I think abandoning it completely would not be a good idea,” he said.

Asked by Tapper whether it would be safe for Americans to gather for holidays such as Christmas and Thanksgiving in 2021, Fauci said it “depends on a number of factors.”

“We are not going to turn it on and off, going from where we are to completely normal. It's going to be a gradual accrual of more normality as the weeks and the months go by, as we get well into 2021,” Fauci said.

Fauci also called Ron Klain, chief of staff to President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenSenate holds longest vote in history as Democrats scramble to save relief bill Ex-Trump appointee arrested in Capitol riot complains he won't be able to sleep in jail Biden helps broker Senate deal on unemployment benefits MORE, an “excellent choice.”

“I worked very closely with Ron Klain during the Ebola outbreak. He was the — they called it a czar. He never liked that word czar. He was the coordinator. But he was absolutely terrific at the Ebola situation, where we had a very successful ultimate endgame with Ebola,” Fauci said.