PC: Reuters

If you aren’t up-to-date on your Covid vaccines and boosters, you may be in for some trouble down the road, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). As he told ABC News, You’re going to get into trouble if you don’t keep up with this stuff. Here’s what you need to know about his warning and whether or not it should be taken seriously.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has a warning for you if you haven’t gotten your Covid vaccines or booster shots: Get them now or prepare for a brutal Covid fall and winter.

“If they don’t get vaccinated or boosted, we’re going to have trouble,” Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser, told Los Angeles’ KNX News 97.1’s “KNX In Depth” on Tuesday.

This applies to about 70% of Americans. Nearly 228 million, or about two-thirds of Americans, weren’t vaccinated, didn’t complete their primary vaccine series, or hadn’t received their first booster dose by July 21st, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Booster shots are extremely low in uptake. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, out of all Americans ages 5 and older eligible for a booster five months after finishing their primary vaccine series, only 48.4% have actually received one.

In adults over 50 who are eligible for a second booster shot, only 30.9% have gotten it, according to the data.

In May, White House Covid response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha predicted a spike of 100 million new infections and a wave of deaths in the U.S. during the fall and winter.

In a statement, Fauci referred to the country’s vaccination and booster rates as “quite discouraging” and pointed out one reason why people aren’t up to date: They simply believe they do not need the additional doses because they do not belong to high-risk populations for Covid. Elderly people, those with underlying or immunocompromising conditions, and those who are fully unvaccinated fall into this category.

“People say, ‘Well the risk to me is low. So why get it?’” Fauci said.

Fauci explained that the longer the virus circulates, the more likely it is to mutate into an entirely new strain that could endanger even low-risk populations. Basically, if you were a perfect candidate for Covid and fully recovered without many setbacks, then you might have been the exception—but you may have prolonged the virus’s lifespan and allowed it to evolve even more.

The Omicron subvariant BA.5 is already adept at partially evading protective antibodies triggered by vaccines, Fauci said. The vaccines still prevent serious illness, hospitalization, and even death, so there’s no reason to avoid doses: Even a little protection is better than none, and vaccines prevent serious illness, hospitalization, and even death.

According to Fauci, booster shots targeting Covid strains such as BA.5 will be available next month, which will improve immunity against these particular strains. Get vaccinated once you’re eligible for the shot. In the meantime, catch up on doses you’ve missed.

If you aren’t worried about your own personal risk, do it for your “communal responsibility,” Fauci said.

“If you want to get your arms around … the outbreak, you want to get as many people in our community — and by community, I mean our nation and the world — vaccinated and boosted, so you don’t give this virus such ample opportunity to really circulate,” he said.