Dr. Fauci says large holiday gatherings not safe — even with booster

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Chief Medical Advisor to the President, speaks with guests after U.S. President Joe Biden delivered remarks to commemorate World AIDS Day at the White House on December 01, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (The Hill) – Dr. Anthony Fauci said large gatherings this holiday season are not safe, even for those fully vaccinated with a booster shot.

During a White House COVID-19 task force news briefing on Wednesday, the head of the National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Diseases urged Americans to “stay away” from large gatherings, which he defined as 30 to 50 people.

“Those are the kind of functions — in the context of COVID, and particularly in the context of omicron — that you do not want to go to,” Fauci said.

Fauci called “parties” and larger gatherings a “higher risk,” but said it would be safe for fully vaccinated individuals, who are boosted, to attend smaller family gatherings.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in its “holiday tip” list, recommends avoiding holiday gatherings altogether only if a person has symptoms or is sick.

Adults over the age of 18, who got their last vaccine shot at least six months ago, are eligible for a booster shot from Moderna, while anyone aged 16 or older can get the Pfizer booster shot. Adults who got a Johnson & Johnson vaccine can get a booster after two months.

More than 60 million Americans have already received their booster shots, including 62 percent of eligible seniors, according to the White House.

Speaking TuesdayPresident Biden said he would not shut the country down again, even with the omicron variant spreading rapidly in the U.S. and accounting for 73 percent of all new confirmed infections last week.

The U.S., which has seen more than 800,000 deaths related to COVID-19, is grappling with high infection rates and skyrocketing hospitalizations in a number of states, including New York, which set records this week for daily confirmed positive cases.

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