- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 4, 2021

Dr. Anthony Fauci urged Americans on Sunday to take added precautions when traveling to areas with low vaccination rates and mask up.

Dr. Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was asked Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” if individuals who are vaccinated should continue to wear masks. In particular, Dr. Fauci was asked if masks are needed in areas with low vaccination rates.

“As we’ve said so often, vaccines, even as good as they are and they are highly effective, nothing is 100%,” Dr. Fauci said. “If you put yourself in an environment in which you have a high level of viral dynamics and a very low level of vaccine, you might want to go the extra step … go the extra mile, to be cautious enough to make sure I get the extra added level of protection even though the vaccines themselves are highly effective.”

His comments come as vaccination rates have begun to stall nationally. Younger Americans, most notably, have been less likely to get vaccinated than other age groups.

The lag has resulted in President Biden missing his goal of having at least 70% of all adults in the country inoculated with one dose of the vaccine by the Fourth of July holiday. As of Sunday, only 67% of U.S. adults had received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Jeffrey Zients, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said the key to boosting vaccinations would rely on building trust.

”We have a lot more work to do across the summer months to reach unvaccinated people, make it easy for people to get their shot and their second shot and to answer people’s questions,” Mr. Zients said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”  “And key to answering questions are physicians and other health care professionals.”

Elected officials also will play a role, especially in red states, according to West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican.

“When it really boils right down to it, they’re in a lottery to themselves,” Mr. Justice told “Fox News Sunday.”  “You know, we have a lottery that basically says, if you’re vaccinated, we’re going to give you stuff. But you’ve got another lottery going on, and it’s the death lottery.”

• Haris Alic can be reached at halic@washingtontimes.com.

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