The omicron variant of COVID-19 is the most dominant strain of the virus in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As the highly-transmissible variant spreads across the country, President Joe Biden and his administration are ramping up plans to combat the new wave of cases, including encouraging more Americans to get vaccinated and boosted.
During a one-on-one interview with a local news station in Dayton, Ohio, on Dec. 16, Biden said, “How about you make sure you’re vaccinated so you do not spread the disease to anyone else?” A short clip of the interview quickly went viral on Twitter, and some people are claiming the president is spreading misinformation.
Can vaccinated people spread COVID-19 to others?
Yes, vaccinated people can spread COVID-19 to others.
WHAT WE FOUND
According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people with vaccine breakthrough infections can spread COVID-19 to others. This includes the delta and omicron variants, the latter of which the CDC says they expect can be spread even if you're "vaccinated or don't have any symptoms."
The World Health Organization (WHO) also warns of the same risk – especially with new variants that are more transmissible.
“Research is ongoing to understand the extent to which being vaccinated stops you from becoming infected and passing the virus on to others. More data is needed to know the extent of this protection. There is still a chance you could pass the virus on,” according to the WHO.
The CDC and WHO say being vaccinated does help reduce the likelihood of someone spreading COVID-19, but it does not eliminate the risk entirely.
“To protect those close to you, everyone, including those fully vaccinated, should continue to wear masks properly, especially as some new variants are more transmissible,” the WHO recommends.
This isn’t the first time Biden has claimed vaccinated people don’t spread COVID-19. In July 2021, he made a similar claim during a CNN town hall. Then, again in October, he said people cannot spread the virus while explaining the rationale behind a healthcare worker vaccine mandate.
The White House has repeatedly tried to walk back the president’s remarks – including after his interview with the local news station in Ohio.
“What I know and what the president believes is that we have to listen to the science. We have to listen to our public health officials. And that’s what the president believes,” White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during a Dec. 16 briefing.