(CNSNews.com) - Dr. Anthony Fauci spent much of his Thanksgiving break on television, urging Americans to take advantage of the newly imposed South Africa travel ban to get vaccinated and/or "boosted."
"When you -- when you diminish or stop or block travel from a particular country there's a reason for that," Fauci told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday:
"It's to give you time to do things. So don't let this decision that was made about blocking the travel from certain countries go without a positive effect.
"And the positive effect is to get us better prepared, to rev up on the vaccination, to be really ready for something that may not actually be a big deal, but we want to make sure that we're prepared for the worst. And that's what we should be doing."
Fauci said the omicron variant, recently detected in South Africa, appears to be highly contagious and "it might evade immune protection" afforded by currently available treatments and vaccines.
But that's no reason to wait for the next iteration of the vaccine, Fauci said:
If you are six months or more from the second dose of an mRNA, either the Pfizer or the Moderna, get boosted. If you're two months or more following the single dose of J&J, get boosted.
Don't try to play mind games of saying, "Maybe I should wait a little bit longer." Get boosted now. The one thing we do know, Chuck, that's really good news is that when you get boosted, the level of your antibody goes way, way above what the level at its peak was after the second dose.
So the booster not only gets you back up to where you were, it gets you way, way, way up. And that's the reason why we feel even with variants like Omicron that if you get boosted you're going to get a level of antibody that is high enough that it is likely you'll be able to get at least some degree and maybe a lot of protection against this. So as, again, I said in the beginning of the interview, Chuck, if ever there was a reason for the people who were vaccinated to get boosted and for those who are unvaccinated to get vaccinated, it's now.
Fauci said he does not anticipate a change in what it means to be "fully vaccinated."
"Right now there's not going to be a change, certainly not in the immediate future, of what is the definition of fully vaccinated. And that's still two shots of an mRNA and one shot of a J&J. But if you want to optimize your protection as an individual, clearly, that's where we're saying, go get your booster."
Fauci told NBC's Chuck Todd the coronavirus is here to stay, but we can learn to live with it:
You know, we certainly are not going to eradicate it. We've only eradicated one virus and that's smallpox. Elimination means there's none of it in the country like we have now with polio and with measles. I don't think we're going to be there with this. But what I do think we will be able to do is get a level of control that's low enough that it doesn't interfere with our function. It doesn't have a major impact on society and what we do.
It's not going to go away. The lower we get it, the better off we'll be. And you get it that low when you get the overwhelming majority of the population vaccinated and boosted.
So like I've said multiple times, Chuck, it's in our own grasp of how we're going to be able to live with the virus. The lower we get it, the lower the dynamics of virus in the community, the lower the risk to everyone, including vaccinated people.