More than two and a half years of contending with the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the public. Officials have struggled to rein in surges of the virus, which is responsible for over one million deaths in the U.S. and counting, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But many have largely decided to move into a new phase of dealing with COVID-19, it’s still not finished coursing its way through the population—especially as new highly contagious subvariants have begun to spread. Thankfully, safe and effective vaccines are widely available that make it much less likely to become seriously ill from the virus. But now, Anthony Fauci, MD, chief COVID advisor to the White House, is warning that even vaccinated people will “get into trouble” if they don’t do one thing in the coming weeks.
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During an appearance on Los Angeles radio station KNX News’ KNX In Depth on Aug. 2, Fauci discussed the current state of the pandemic and how the public could prepare themselves for potential spikes of cases in the fall and winter. And while he acknowledged that many people have grown weary of precautions, he cautioned that the virus could still put many in danger if they didn’t boost their immunity soon.
“There are enough people who don’t fall into [high-risk] categories, that if they don’t get vaccinated, if they don’t get boosted, they’re going to get into trouble,” he warned.
Data from the CDC shows that while 67.2 percent of the U.S. population received all required shots for their initial vaccine doses, only 48.2 percent have received their first booster dose. And although anyone 50 and older is eligible for a second booster, only 32 percent have opted to do so.
“Right now, we have boosters that are very effective in diminishing any aspect of the infection. A virus like BA.5, which is the most prevalent circulating virus, is so transmissible that it often breaks through the protection of vaccine,” Fauci said, referencing the COVID-19 subvariant that now accounts for more than 85 percent of infections in the U.S. “But the vaccines and the boosters still do a very good job at preventing you from progressing to severe disease.”
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Research has shown that getting your shots can significantly improve outcomes with the virus. In a report released by the CDC in June, data showed that COVID-related hospitalizations were 4.6 times higher in unvaccinated adults on average compared to those who had received their shots, per Fortune.
Besides personal safety, Fauci said that the shots and boosters would also help reduce the likelihood of new variants developing and entering the population. He called getting vaccinated a “communal responsibility” to help finally bring the virus to heel.
“You don’t want COVID to dominate the lives of people throughout this country or the world, but you don’t want to, by wishing it’s behind us and it’s in the rearview mirror, not do things that would be prudent,” Fauci told KNX News. “We’re not talking about locking down, we’re just talking about common sense, getting the appropriate interventions when they’re available to you—and right now we have boosters that are very effective in diminishing any aspect of the infection.”