Dr. Anthony Fauci said wearing face masks could become a “seasonal” norm following the pandemic.
“It is conceivable that as we go on, a year or two or more from now, that during certain seasonal periods when you have respiratory-borne viruses like the flu, people might actually elect to wear masks to diminish the likelihood that you’ll spread these respiratory-borne diseases,” the country’s leading infectious disease expert said Sunday during an appearance on NBC News’s Meet the Press.
“We’ve had practically a nonexistent flu season this year merely because people were doing the kinds of public health things that were directed predominantly against COVID-19,” he added.
He also explained the country could only truly move forward in a post-coronavirus world if most of the population receives the vaccine.
“I mean, if we get, which we will, to the goals that the president has established — namely, if we get 70% of the people vaccinated by the Fourth of July, namely one single dose and even more thereafter — you may see blips, but if we handle them well, it is unlikely that you’ll see the kind of surge that we saw in the late fall and the early winter,” he said.
“The fact that we have vaccines right now … is really a game-changer,” Fauci added.
If these sorts of vaccination levels are not met, then the chance increases for a coronavirus surge, he said.
“That’s the reason … why we plead with people to get vaccinated, because the larger proportion of the population that’s vaccinated, the less likelihood that in a season like the coming fall or winter, you’re going to see a significant surge,” he explained. “That’s the wild card that we have now that we didn’t have last fall or the last winter.”
The NBC host concluded the exchange by asking what more can be done to encourage people to get vaccinated.
“I think it’s twofold, Chuck. One, you’ve got to get trusted messengers out there, getting people to understand why it’s important to get vaccinated for themselves, their family, and the community,” Fauci answered.
The medical adviser recognized that people are influenced by different factors and said all avenues should be explored to get out the message on vaccines.
“And different types of people, different phases in life have different trusted messages. It could be sports figures. It could be entertainment figures. It could be clergy, or it could be your family doctor,” Fauci said.
Another factor: Easy access.
“The next thing is to make it as easy as possible for people to get vaccinated, which we’re doing now with the 40,000 pharmacies where you don’t have to go online, you don’t have to call up. You can walk right in and get vaccinated,” he concluded.