The nation's leading infectious disease expert Anthony FauciAnthony FauciSunday shows - Russia standoff over Ukraine dominates Fauci says he's confident most states reach peak of omicron in mid-February Pfizer CEO says frequent boosters 'not a good scenario,' hopes for yearly vaccine MORE on Saturday continued to urge people to wear masks during the holiday season even if family members have already received COVID-19 vaccinations.
"You can enjoy the family and the warmth of the holiday season and still stay safe and prevent yourself from getting infected by just doing some of the common things that we talk about; appropriate wearing of masks, trying to keep some physical distance," Fauci said on CNN's Sesame Street town hall Saturday morning.
Fauci's advice echoes directions given by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which also states: "The combination of getting vaccinated and following CDC’s recommendations to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from COVID-19," according to the health agency's webpage.
Health experts have underscored that taking the vaccine will not immediately result in immunity to the virus, as the CDC notes, "It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination," meaning it is possible for one to fall ill with COVID-19 just before or after a vaccine is administered.
The leading infectious disease expert of the White House coronavirus task force repeated his guidance for small family gatherings during the holidays, urging people to try and congregate outdoors, keep social distance and wear masks to lessen the risk of spreading the illness.
Fauci and experts have said that while the coronavirus is highly contagious, it is less likely to infect another person if people choose to gather outdoors while wearing a mask compared to densely-packed indoor gatherings.
"I think your family and friends together you can still have a warm and enjoyable Christmas and holiday season right now and enjoy it to the fullest," Fauci said Saturday, voicing a more optimistic view about holiday gatherings than his guidance on Thanksgiving celebrations last month, though it's important to note the Food and Drug Administration had not approved vaccines for disbursement at the time.
Speaking on the safety of Thanksgiving gatherings in October, Fauci said "I think people should be very careful and prudent about social gatherings, particularly when members of the family might be at a risk because of their age or their underlying condition."
The CDC confirmed in October that small indoor gatherings are the leading cause of spreading COVID-19, and said earlier this month the agency does not recommend holiday travel for Christmas.
Fauci also voiced concerns earlier this month that the COVID-19 holiday spread could be "more compounded" on Christmas because people typically spend longer times together than on Thanksgiving, though his advice on Saturday gave Americans a green light to celebrate under his safety guidance.
While Fauci offered Americans a roadmap for safely enjoying the holidays with their loved ones, he reaffirmed this week he would be spending Christmas Eve, his birthday and Christmas Day alone with his wife, the nearly 80-year-old disease expert said.
Fauci has encouraged other Americans to follow him and his wife's example to minimize gatherings around the holidays.