The president’s chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, is voicing optimism about a happy and healthy holiday season.

If you and your family members are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, he told CNN, it’s OK to ditch the masks during holiday gatherings.

“That’s what I’m going to do with my family,” he told CNN’s Dana Bash.

That doesn’t mean tossing the mask entirely, he said. If you’re traveling or you’re going to be surrounded by people whose vaccine status you don’t know, he said, you should still wear the mask.

“Get vaccinated and you can enjoy the holidays very easily,” Fauci said, “and if you’re not, please be careful. Get tested if you need to get tested when you’re getting together, but that’s not a substitute for getting vaccinated. Get yourself vaccinated, and you can continue to enjoy interactions with your family and others.”

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 196 million people, or 59% of the total U.S. population, are fully vaccinated. Some 83 million people, about 26.6% of the eligible population, have yet to receive even one dose.

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, told CNN the coronavirus was claiming the lives of more than a thousand people a day, most of them unvaccinated.

“Those are preventable deaths,” he said. “Probably at least 100,000 of the deaths that have happened this year didn’t need to.”

What can we do to scale back the death toll? Fauci’s advice is simple.

If you’re the parent of a child five or older, get that child vaccinated. That’s the best way to ensure your child has a happy and healthy holiday season.

If you’re among those adults who have not yet gotten a shot, get one, and when it’s time for your booster, get that, too.

Fauci and other health experts are now recommending boosters for every adult. For those who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the experts recommend a booster two months after the initial dose. For those who got the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the recommended time frame is six months.

“We have a lot of virus circulating around,” Fauci told CNN. “We know that there are breakthrough infections and that’s how you get the uptick in cases. The bottom line, common denominator of all of this data, is we should get vaccinated if you’re not vaccinated, and boosted if you have been vaccinated.”

Eligible recipients who refuse to get a vaccine pose a risk not only for themselves but for those around them.

So give your family a gift this holiday season. Make sure everyone five and older in your household is fully vaccinated.

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