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Fauci: April should be 'open season' for vaccinations

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciNevada man present at Capitol insurrection announces gubernatorial bid Overnight Health Care: US surpasses 600K COVID-19 deaths | Federal watchdog to examine NIH grants, likely including Wuhan funding CDC labels highly transmissible delta strain a COVID-19 'variant of concern' MORE said he thinks that by April it will be "open season" for vaccinations in the country, and anyone who wants a shot will be able to get one.

Speaking on NBC's "Today," Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases doctor and science adviser to President BidenJoe BidenJapan to possibly ease COVID-19 restrictions before Olympics 14 Republicans vote against making Juneteenth a federal holiday China supplies millions of vaccine doses to developing nations in Asia MORE, predicted the rate of vaccinations will pick up in the spring as more doses become available and more locations start administering shots.

He said the pace will increase because of the administration's programs to allow pharmacies and community health centers to administer shots.

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"I would imagine by the time we get to April, that would be what I call ...  open season. Namely, virtually everybody and anybody in any category can start to get vaccinated," Fauci said.

However, he added that it will still take "several more months" to get the vaccine into people's arms, but that hopefully the overwhelming majority of people in this country will be vaccinated by the end of the summer.

While the pace has picked up to about 1.5 million people a day, the nation's vaccine rollout has been uneven, plagued by supply shortages and differing approaches in every state. 

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There are only two companies with authorized vaccines in the U.S., but Johnson & Johnson is set for federal review at the end of this month, potentially adding to the available supply as soon as March.

New cases, hospitalizations and even deaths, which had been at historic highs following the holiday season, have steadily declined in recent weeks, but about 3,000 people are still dying a day.

Experts have likened the current situation to the calm before the next storm, when more contagious variants become the dominant strain in the country. Still, while Fauci said he was taking the threats of new variants seriously, he was not overly worried.

"The sobering news is that it does spread more rapidly. We know that from the U.K. experience. The uplifting news is that the vaccines that we now have, the Moderna and Pfizer and very likely the ones coming online soon, seem to do well against this U.K. variant," Fauci said. 

Fauci added that people should continue preventive behavior like physical distancing and mask wearing, but if they've been doing it all along, nothing should change.

Fauci also clarified that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday did not recommend that people wear two masks. The agency updated guidance about mask fitting to emphasize that the tighter the fit, the better the protection will be.

"What the CDC is saying is at minimum, wear a mask. OK? This is what they're saying. Make sure you wear a mask," Fauci said.

"Then you want it to fit better, so one of the ways you could do it, if you would like to, is put a cloth mask over ... That's all they're saying," Fauci added.