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Photos: Stefani Reynolds-Pool and Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

NIAID Director Anthony Fauci in an interview with CNN Tuesday pushed back on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' (R) claim last week that getting the COVID vaccine should be a personal choice that "really doesn't impact me or anyone else."

What he's saying: "When you're dealing with an outbreak of an infectious disease, it isn't only about you," said the nation's top infectious diseases expert. "There's a societal responsibility that we all have."

  • "If [DeSantis] feels that vaccines are not important for people, that they're just important for some people, that's completely incorrect," he said when asked about DeSantis' comments.
  • "When you have a virus that's circulating in the community and you are not vaccinated, you are part of the problem. Because you're allowing yourself to be a vehicle for the virus to be spreading to someone else."
  • "So it isn't as if it stops with you," Fauci added, noting that if an unvaccinated person tests positive, they could transmit the virus to those who are more vulnerable because of underlying medical conditions.

The big picture: The vast majority of people getting sick from COVID are unvaccinated adults.

Zoom in: DeSantis, who has banned mask mandates and vaccine passports in schools, has blamed Florida's spike in new cases on a "seasonal pattern" and "media hysteria."

Go deeper

How the little-known B and T cells can protect against COVID variants

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The body's long-term immune responses help to defend against emerging coronavirus variants even as antibody immunity is waning in people who are vaccinated or who've had prior COVID-19 infections.

The big picture: Variants are testing the success of the COVID-19 vaccines, as antibody levels typically drop after peaking from infection or vaccination.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: No evidence that healthy children, teens need boosters, WHO says — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older.
  5. Variant tracker
Dec 17, 2021 - Health

Biden warns of "winter of severe illness" for unvaccinated Americans

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Biden warned unvaccinated Americans on Thursday that the Omicron COVID-19 variant will start to spread more rapidly in the U.S. if they do not receive their shots soon.

Driving the news: Research shows that Omicron is spreading extremely quickly, even among vaccinated people, though experts expect COVID-19 vaccines to protect against severe disease. Researchers estimate that it takes two to three days for the number of Omicron cases to double, per Axios' Caitlin Owens.