CDC says agency may change definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ ahead of rollout for COVID boosters

The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday the agency is examining a change to “fully vaccinated” for COVID-19 as booster shots for the virus are being rolled out.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that the agency “may need to update” the definition of Americans’ vaccination status after the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration both approved boosters for all two authorized COVID vaccines for those meeting specified requirements. She added that since not all Americans are eligible for a booster shot, the definition hasn’t been changed “yet,” Axios reported.

“Fully vaccinated persons are those who are ≥14 days post-completion of the primary series of an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine,” says the current CDC definition.

“Right now we don’t have booster eligibility for all people currently,” Walensky said during a White House COVID-19 response briefing. “So we have not yet changed the definition of fully vaccinated. We will continue to look at this. We may need to update our definition of fully vaccinated in the future.”

On Wednesday, booster shot approval was granted for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. In addition, reports said, the FDA also signed off on mixing and matching COVID shots to allow Americans to get boosters from other than their original vaccine.

The FDA authorized boosters for the Pfizer vaccine in September.

“After considering the totality of the available scientific evidence and the deliberations of our advisory committee of independent, external experts, the FDA amended the EUA for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to allow for a booster dose in certain populations such as health care workers, teachers, and daycare staff, grocery workers and those in homeless shelters or prisons, among others,” said acting FDA commissioner Janet Woodcock last month.

“This pandemic is dynamic and evolving, with new data about vaccine safety and effectiveness becoming available every day. As we learn more about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, including the use of a booster dose, we will continue to evaluate the rapidly changing science and keep the public informed,” she added.

This week’s authorizations allow anyone who got the one-dose J&J shot to get another J&J dose or a booster from the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines at least two months after getting their first jab.

For anyone who got the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines first, only older Americans or those who are at greater risk of contracting a serious case of the virus due to underlying medical or workplace conditions are eligible for a booster at this time.

Previously, President Joe Biden said that booster vaccines would be readily and widely available for nearly everyone in September. But an advisory panel to the FDA voted 16-2 against authorizing boosters for most Americans and 18-0 in favor of only recommending them for those who are 65 years of age and older or at higher COVID risk.

Several people took to social media to accuse the administration of moving the COVID vaccine goalposts again in order to perpetuate them into the future.

Missy Halsey


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