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Dr. Fauci Says What You Can Do Differently Now That There's a Vaccine

Here's what the infectious-disease expert says about the simple and effective public health measures.

Don't get overconfident now that two COVID-19 vaccines have been approved for emergency use, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious-disease expert, on Tuesday—as far as your day-to-day life is concerned, nothing should change. "Nothing should really change right now with regard to the public health measures that hopefully we have all already been doing," said Fauci on Fox News on Tuesday. "The universal wearing of masks; physical distancing; avoid[ing] congregate settings, particularly indoors; washing hands—until we get the level of virus so dramatically low in society, in the community, we still must practice public health measures. So a vaccine right now, at the stage that we're at, should not change anything when it comes to the public health measures that we're implementing." Read on to hear more about how to stay safe—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

"Massive amount of community spread" happening now

Fauci and other public health officials have previously warned that Americans will need to continue wearing masks and social distancing throughout much of 2021, a message Fauci has reiterated in recent days. It will take several months before the average American will be able to obtain the vaccine, which is rolling out first to healthcare workers and nursing-home residents, tentatively followed by people over age 75 and frontline workers. Health experts say that at least 70 percent of Americans will need to be vaccinated against COVID to achieve herd immunity.

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That means "until you get a degree of immunity, that the level of infection is so low in the population, that there really is no longer a threat of a person getting infected," said Fauci on the FiveThirtyEight podcast Podcast-19. "Because when you get the virus right now, we're having a massive amount of community spread in the United States. If you get down to a very, very, very low baseline, then you could start pulling back on things like mask wearing and congregating. You can start going to restaurants and going to a movie or going to a theater, but until you get that level of virus really low by vaccinating a substantial proportion of the people, you still have to have some degree of public health measures that you're implementing."

More than 18 million cases of coronavirus have been reported in the U.S., with more than 323,000 deaths. 

How to survive this pandemic

Fauci, who will be 80 years old on Christmas Eve, got the COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday and said he was "doing great."

"I'm right now feeling great, but might change a little bit later," he said. "I wouldn't be surprised if I got a little ache and felt a little down. But right now, I actually feel perfect." He called Operation Warp Speed "historically successful" and has said that vaccines will be available to the common Joe and Jane as soon as April. But until we have herd immunity, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear a face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more