Fully Vaccinated People Can Celebrate Thanksgiving and the Holidays in Groups Without Face Masks

Photo: (Photo : FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

Fully vaccinated people who are planning to celebrate with family, friends, or groups of people, who also have had two doses of vaccines, may now enjoy each other's company without the need for a face mask.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director, told CNN that this is how it will go down in his own family during the holidays since they are fully vaccinated. However, Fauci expressed caution and advised people to keep wearing a face mask if they are traveling and are not aware of the status of those around them.

Fauci said that COVID-19 testings are never a substitute for vaccination, so if people plan to interact in groups, he recommends getting vaccinated as soon as possible. The expert's suggestions come as this is the second holiday with restrictions due to the pandemic. Nevertheless, the limitations are now easing off since the U.S. has rolled out vaccinations for nearly a year and booster shots are underway.

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'Fully Vaccinated' Means Two Doses

The doctor also clarified that the criteria for "fully vaccinated" remains the same at two doses. However, those who received the Johnson & Johnson's Janssen vaccine, which initially has one dose only, should now get the booster shot if their first jab was more than two months ago.

Fauci also wants the public to understand that all vaccines are "quite effective," but booster shots could be necessary since the virus is still circulating.

"We know that there are breakthrough infections and that's how you get the uptick in cases," the doctor said, emphasizing that goal for the healthcare system is for the unvaccinated to get their shots and the vaccinated to have their boosters.

Fauci said that hospitalizations are rising among the "vaccinated but not boosted" in the U.S. though these numbers do not comprise the majority of the population. Chief of concerns for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the elderly residents in care facilities who were the first to receive the vaccination in late 2020.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky of the CDC confirmed more visits to the emergency rooms among the above 65 age group than the younger ages in recent weeks. However, their rate of infection and complications is lower compared to those who have never been vaccinated at all.

Fully Vaccinated Less Likely to Contract the Virus

Meanwhile, several studies have indicated that fully vaccinated individuals are less likely to contract COVID-19 than unvaccinated individuals. However, a small number may still have a breakthrough infection and transmit the virus to other people. The experts said that this should not discourage people since vaccines help prevent the severe effects of COVID-19.

Across the U.S., families are already planning to host Thanksgiving parties safely indoors with fully vaccinated relatives coming from other states or countries. The latest figures show that nearly 60 percent of the adult population have been fully vaccinated, while 10 percent of children under 11 years old have gotten their two jabs.

On the other hand, other families are planning an outdoor soiree for the Thanksgiving weekend since only half of their families are fully vaccinated. Some have required their extended family members to get tested before they gather indoors "to be extra cautious" because there will always be people who will never get the vaccination.

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