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Dr. Anthony Fauci received the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine last week

By Eric Todisco
December 27, 2020 12:00 PM
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anthony fauci
Anthony Fauci
| Credit: Patrick Semansky-Pool/Getty

Dr. Anthony Fauci said he's in good health five days after receiving the first dose of the Moderna novel coronavirus vaccine.

The 79-year-old infectious-disease expert told CNN's State of the Union on Sunday that he had no side effects besides a brief ache in his arm after getting the shot on live television last Tuesday.

"The only thing I had was 6-10 hours following the vaccine I felt a little bit of an ache in my arm that lasted maybe 24 hours, a little bit more," he said. "Then went away and completely other than that I felt no other deleterious types of effects."

Fauci added, "It was really quite good, it was even as good or better than an influenza vaccine. Nothing serious at all. Perhaps when I get the boost I might feel a little aching because the immune system will be revving up even more but I'll be getting that in about three weeks."

The Moderna vaccine (like the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine) requires two doses, each administered several weeks apart, in order to reach 95 percent efficacy. It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration last Friday and is being distributed throughout the country.

anthony fauci
Dr. Anthony Fauci
| Credit: Patrick Semansky/AP/Shutterstock

In his interview with CNN, Fauci also expressed concern that COVID-19 cases will likely continue to surge across the country after the holidays.

"The reason that I'm concerned is that we very well might see a post-seasonal, in the sense of Christmas and New Years, surge," he explained. "And as I've described it as a surge upon a surge because if you look at the slope, the incline of cases we've experienced as we've gone into the late fall and soon to be early winter, it really is quite troubling."

Noting that the country is at "at a very critical point," Fauci added, "If you put more pressure on the system by what might be a post seasonal surge because of the traveling and the likely congregating for the good warm purposes of being together for the holidays, it's very tough for people not to do that. And even though we advise not to, it's going to happen."

"So I share the concern of President-elect Biden that as we get into the next few weeks it might actually get worse," he added.

A week before Christmas, Fauci pleaded with Americans to take the necessary precautions during the holidays amid the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S.

"Stay at home as much as you can, keep your interactions to the extent possible to members of the same household," he said in an interview with The Washington Post's "Power Up" newsletter. "This cannot be business as usual this Christmas because we're already in a very difficult situation, and we're going to make it worse, if we don't do something about it."

Fauci went on to explain that the ongoing pandemic is "not going to last forever" thanks to the vaccines. "So make the choice and keep yourself and your family healthy so that you'll have many more Christmases ahead of you," he said.

The U.S. has reported over 19 million cases of COVID-19 as of Dec. 27, while at least 33,011 people have died, according to The New York Times' coronavirus database.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.