CDC Director Says Agency ‘Pivoting Language’ around Who Qualifies as Fully Vaccinated

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CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Friday that the agency is working to “pivot the language” around who qualifies as fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to instead focus on who is as “up-to-date” with their shots as they “should be.”

“What we really are working to do is pivot the language to make sure that everybody is as up to date with their Covid-19 vaccine as they personally could be, should be, based on when they got their last vaccine,” Walensky said.

“We really want to make sure people are up-to-date,” she added. “That means if you recently got your second dose, you’re not eligible for a booster, you’re up-to-date. If you are eligible for a booster and you haven’t gotten it, you’re not up-to-date and you need to get your booster in order to be up-to-date.”

Walensky’s comment comes days after President Biden dodged a question on why the White House hasn’t changed the definition of “fully vaccinated” against Covid-19 to include a third booster shot and if the reason is that the number of fully-vaccinated Americans would suddenly look a lot less impressive.

He claimed that was not the reason the definition hadn’t been updated. When a reporter pressed him again he responded: “The answer is yes, get the booster shot it’s all part of the same thing. You’re better protected.”

With officials pushing Americans to receive their booster shots, many believed it was only a matter of time before the definition of “fully vaccinated” would shift from meaning two shots of an mRNA vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, to including a booster shot. A shifting definition could change the requirements of vaccine mandates across the country, including requirements for health care workers.

While the Supreme Court temporarily suspended the Biden administration’s vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers last week, the justices allowed a vaccine mandate for health-care workers at facilities that receive federal funding to go into effect.

CDC data show 39 percent of fully vaccinated people have gotten booster shots. However, some people may not be eligible for an additional shot yet if not enough time has passed since their most recent shot.

Meanwhile, three reports released Friday showed vaccine boosters provide robust protection against severe disease from the omicron variant in the U.S.

Data collected between August 2021 and January 5, 2022, show a third dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines was 90 percent effective at preventing hospitalization and 82 percent effective in preventing a trip to the emergency room or urgent care.

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