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Fact Check- Fauci’s 2004 comments do not contradict his pandemic stance

Social media users are sharing a comment top U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci made in 2004 about influenza and using it to discredit his response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Examples can be seen (here) and (here).

The text in one post reads: “Fauci, in 2004: ‘If she got the flu for 14 days, she’s as protected as anybody can be, because the best vaccination is getting infected yourself. If she really has the flu, she definitely doesn’t need a flu vaccine … the most potent vaccination is getting infected yourself.’” The video shows Fauci saying this during an interview.

The posts show a short clip of Fauci from an Oct. 11, 2004, interview with the Washington Journal, visible on C-SPAN (here). The exchange begins at around the 30-minute mark when Fauci speaks to a caller who describes having a reaction to an influenza vaccine.

When asked if the caller should receive a flu shot if she’s had the flu for 14 days, Fauci responds with the quote seen in the clip.

Fauci is giving advice for a specific situation pertaining to this caller. Natural immunity from infection does not mean flu vaccinations do not help curb community spread and protect vulnerable people.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends receiving the influenza vaccine (here) and says getting vaccinated is a safer choice than risking illness to get immune protection (here).

A flu vaccine is recommended each year as the influenza virus changes and the vaccine is adjusted accordingly, according to the CDC (here).

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises on its website (bit.ly/3Js43yP) that receiving a flu vaccine after recovering from flu is important as it helps prevent illness from different strains of influenza.

Furthermore, COVID-19 is a different virus from influenza and receiving a vaccine is safer than risking severe illness with the virus, according to the CDC.(bit.ly/3vc95u8).

Although people who recover from COVID-19 usually gain some immune defenses against reinfection, they get additional protection from vaccines, especially against severe disease, according to two studies published on March 31 in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal (see here ).

Reuters has previously debunked claims comparing the influenza virus and the COVID-19 virus (here , here , here and here).

VERDICT

Missing context. Top infectious disease Dr. Anthony Fauci’s comments made in 2004 were regarding a specific case of influenza.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work  here  .         

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