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There has been much accomplished but there's still much to do in terms of getting Americans vaccinated against COVID-19, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, during the latest briefing by the White House COVID Response Team on Tuesday. He talked about herd immunity, what is known about mix-and-match booster shots, and said two words every American should hear. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.
Dr. Fauci Compared the 1918 and 2021 Pandemics
Fauci recalled the flu pandemic of 1918, during which his father was 10 years old, said he remembered hearing about relatively young people dying. "Back then, they had crude early bacterial vaccines that likely never would have gotten approved by the regulatory and public health authorities today," he said. "Whereas today we have a highly specific, highly effective and very safe vaccine."
Dr. Fauci Has This Message for Today
Fauci said that nearly 70 million Americans still have not been vaccinated. "The overwhelming majority of the people who've died from COVID-19 were people who are unvaccinated," he said, noting that fully vaccinated people have a five times lower risk of infection and more than 10 times lower risk of hospitalization and death.
"Again," he said. "Get vaccinated."
Dr. Fauci Said This About Herd Immunity
The new Surgeon General of Florida has been advocating herd immunity as a concept, which Fauci dismissed. "You know you are at herd immunity when the virus doesn't have an opportunity to go from person to person," said Fauci. "But right now we don't know what that number is. And when you don't know what the number is, what do you do? You vaccinate as many people as you possibly can as quickly and as expeditiously as you possibly can. That's what we should be concentrating on, not any particular number."
Dr. Fauci Advised Patience Regarding Mix-and-Match Boosters
Some are curious whether they should get can—or should—get a booster shot of a different vaccine than the one they were originally inoculated with. Fauci said those studies are ongoing and the last data should be available in October. "As with all things we do, they must be submitted to the FDA for their regulatory approval," he said. "You don't want to get ahead of the FDA."
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Dr. Walensky Assured That the COVID Vaccine is Safe For Pregnant Women
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that vaccines given during pregnancy are safe and effective. "We are fortunate now to have historical safety data with all of these vaccines," she said. "We know that pregnant women are at increased risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and ventilation. They're also at increased risk for adverse events to their baby.
"We now have data that demonstrates that vaccines in whatever time in pregnancy or lactating that they're given, are actually safe and effective and have no adverse events to mom or to baby," she added, noting that some vaccine traverses from mother to baby in utero, so the baby achieves some protection against COVID.
Dr. Walensky Said That Masks Protect Kids and Teachers in Schools
"The best way to protect our unvaccinated, and that includes our young children, is to surround them with people who are vaccinated," said Walensky. "So get vaccinated yourself. It would be great to have everybody who is eligible to be vaccinated, to get vaccinated, to better protect the people who are around them."
She noted that a new study from Arizona found that schools which implemented masking were three-and-half times less likely to have a COVID outbreak. That joins data from other studies showing masking is COVID protective in schools. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.