Vaccinated Americans should feel comfortable celebrating Halloween and other upcoming holidays, the nation's top infectious disease expert said Sunday.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said outdoor trick-or-treating could be a relatively safe activity as the nation continues to fight COVID-19.
"You're outdoors, for the most part — at least when my children were out there doing trick-or-treating," he told CNN's "State of the Union." "And enjoy it. I mean, this is a time that children love. It's a very important part of the year for children. I know my children enjoyed it."
He added: "Particularly if you're vaccinated. If you're not vaccinated, again, think about it, that you'll add an extra degree of protection to yourself and your children and your family and your community. So it's a good time to reflect on why it's important to get vaccinated, but go out there and enjoy Halloween, as well as the other holidays that will be coming up."
While the rates of infections, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 have been trending down, Fauci still appealed to the millions of people in the country who sill haven't been vaccinated. The virus has killed more than 718,000 people in the United States, according to a running tally by NBC News on Monday.
"We have to just be careful that we don't prematurely declare victory in many respects. We still have around 68 million people who are eligible to be vaccinated that have not yet got vaccinated," he said.
"But don't just throw your hands up and say it's all over, because, on the one hand, we do want to celebrate and look forward to the fact that we are going in the right direction. But if you look at the history of the surges and the diminutions in cases over a period of time, they can bounce back."
This year's fall and winter holiday picture stands in stark contrast to the one year ago. Federal health agencies last year discouraged traditional Halloween celebrations.
"We have to emphasize that vaccines have been working," said Dr. Kavita Patel, NBC News medical contributor and a former senior policy aide during the Obama administration. "If you have a majority of your household ... is vaccinated, you are incredibly protected."
More than 187 million people in America, 12 and older, have been fully vaccinated, which is 56.4 percent of the total population, according to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This story first appeared on NBCNews.com.