Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Chief Medical Advisor to the President, said at a White House briefing Monday that even after people get vaccinated for COVID-19, they should “continue to wear masks” and will likely need to refrain from indoor dining and attending theaters. “There are things, even if you’re vaccinated, that you’re not going to be able to do in society,” he said.
Chris Megerian of the Los Angeles Times asked, “I was interested in your thoughts on the messaging around vaccines. There’s a lot of conversation about how you need to be doing the same things even after you get vaccinated. You know, like wearing a mask, not seeing your family, things like that. You think that’s preventing people from being more enthusiastic in getting vaccines and may we see that change in the future?”
“There are certain aspects of being vaccinated and what that means to you personally and your own personal safety and that of your family versus what vaccines will allow you to do in society,” Fauci answered. “One relates to you yourself being vaccinated and the other relates to the number of people and the relative percentage of people in society that will be vaccinated because there will be things that you will not be able to do because the burden of virus in society will be very high, which it is right now, even though we’re going way down on the decline that (Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Dr. Walensky showed you, we are still at an unacceptably high baseline level, with the seven-day average being quite high.”
“So there are things, even if you’re vaccinated, that you’re not going to be able to do in society,” he continued. “For example: indoor dining, theaters, places where people congregate, that’s because of the safety of society. You yourself, what you can do, when you are together with another person, we are looking at that and we are going to try to find very quickly what recommendations could be made about what people can do.”
“One of the things that is universal here, that we know, that at this point in time it is unclear whether when you get vaccinated and you might be protected from clinical disease, which is the primary endpoint of the vaccine studies, that you could conceivably be infected, have virus in your nasal pharynx, and at that same time have no symptoms, which is the reason why we recommend and say you still need to wear a mask, because if you do have virus in the nasal pharynx — even though we hope that when the data comes in, it’s gonna show that the very virus level is quite low and you’re not transmitting it — we don’t know that now. And for that reason we want to make sure that people continue to wear masks despite the fact that they’re vaccinated,” he concluded.