Biden Admin Not Planning to Include COVID Booster Shots in Definition of 'Fully Vaccinated'
By Fran Beyer | Wednesday, 05 January 2022 12:57 PM
The Biden administration says it has no plans to change the definition of "fully vaccinated" against the coronavirus to include a booster shot.
"Individuals are considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 if they've received their primary series, that definition is not changing," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday, The Hill reported.
Walensky said the CDC is instead using the term "up to date" to encourage people to get boosters.
According to The Hill, the definition is important for large employers and health workers amid an array of vaccine requirements the administration has made — makes clear two shots of Pfizer or Moderna will remain enough to satisfy Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services mandates.
"Someone is considered fully vaccinated if they have received their primary series of vaccines, so if you think about the different requirements that you mentioned, travel, OSHA, CMS rules and other examples, that has not changed and we do not have any plans to change that," White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said, The Hill reported.
Many health experts have urged the administration to change the definition, noting the importance of booster shots in protecting against infection from the omicron variant, The Hill reported.
But the Biden administration, though still urging all adults to get booster shots, isn’t going to change the definition for purposes of the mandates, The Hill reported.
According to Zients, two doses still provides strong protection against severe disease, though three doses are needed to provide better protection against getting infected at all.
"I do think it's really important to recognize the vast majority of hospitalizations and deaths are among the unvaccinated Americans and completing the primary vaccination series is clearly a critical step to prevent severe outcomes, with boosters, as Dr. Walensky said, giving the highest level of protection," Zients said. "So we will encourage everybody to get vaccinated, and when eligible boosted."
President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, in December, speculated it was a matter of "when, not if” the definition would change, Axios reported.
"Certainly, when you want to talk about what optimal protection is, I don’t think anybody would argue that optimal protection is going to be with a third shot," he said.