The top U.S. infectious disease expert on Sunday urged millions of Americans who already are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to get booster shots “to optimize their status.”

To date, 34.5 million of the 196 million fully vaccinated people in the United States have received booster shots, according to the government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, even as about 60 million people remain unvaccinated against the illness caused by the coronavirus.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and President Joe Biden’s top medical adviser, told ABC’s “This Week” show, “There is no lack of clarity” about the need for the booster shots because of the waning effectiveness of their first vaccination shots over time.

He said the boosters give people “greater durability,” although it is not clear whether those who have been vaccinated might continue to need booster shots every six months or a year in the future.

“We’re going to look at what it means to be boosted, follow the science, follow the data,” Fauci told CNN’s “State of the Union” show in a separate interview.

A CDC advisory panel Friday voted unanimously to make COVID-19 vaccine booster shots available to those 18 and older.

The number of new cases is on the upswing again in the U.S., with more than 90,000 new cases recorded daily in recent days. Fauci said the increase was not unexpected as temperatures turn colder heading into the winter months and more people are confined inside their homes.

But he said that fully vaccinated families and friends can safely get together for annual Thanksgiving Day dinner celebrations this Thursday and not have to wear face masks.

“You can enjoy a happy Thanksgiving this year,” he said. “Enjoy your holiday season with your family.”

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