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Dr. Fauci Warns Don't Go Here Anymore

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After a long pandemic winter, Americans may be daydreaming about planes, trains and exotic destinations, but none of those hallmarks of travel are safe for the foreseeable future, says Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert and chief medical adviser to President Biden. “It is not a good idea to travel, period," said Fauci during a recent CNN town hall on COVID-19And that goes for whether you're vaccinated or not. “Getting vaccinated does not say you have a free pass to travel,” said Fauci. “Nor does it say you have a free pass to put aside all the public health measures that we talk about all the time.” Read on for more of Fauci's warning—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

Herd immunity a long way off

Those measures include wearing a face mask, avoiding large gatherings, and observing a safe social distance from people who don't live in your household—which, for now, means no travel. 

The advent of the COVID vaccine may give some a false sense of security. But experts say we're far from the 75 to 80 percent of the population that must be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. As of Feb. 10, the CDC says just over 9.8 million people have received both doses of vaccine—about 3 percent of Americans overall.

“Until we get the overwhelming proportion of the population vaccinated, the level of virus in the community will still be pretty high,” Fauci said in a Q&A with WUSA News last Friday. “You shouldn't travel unless you really have to travel." 

And remember, even when you get the vaccine, immunity takes some time to kick in: About two weeks after your second dose. "You can get some degree of protection that isn't durable 10 days to 14 days after the first dose, but you can't rely on that," explained Fauci. "The maximum immunity begins about 10 days to two weeks and beyond following the second dose. That goes for anyone, regardless of whether you want to travel or not."

Also critical: Researchers aren't sure if the vaccine prevents transmission of the virus. You might still be able to contract it and pass it along, even if the vaccine prevents you from showing symptoms. So just as the vaccine isn't a ticket to travel, it's also not a license to shed your mask when you're in public. "Currently, we do not have enough data to be able to say with confidence that the vaccines can prevent transmission. So even if vaccinated, you may still be able to spread the virus to vulnerable people. Masks are vital until we learn more & significantly reduce infections,” Fauci tweeted on Feb. 4.

RELATED: Dr. Fauci Just Said When We'd Get Back to Normal

How to survive this pandemic

As for yourself, 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.

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