CDC Director Rochelle Walensky has suggested that the definition of "fully vaccinated" may be subject to change now that booster shots are becoming widely available.
Speaking during a COVID-19 response press briefing on Friday, Walensky was asked by an Associated Press reporter if fully vaccinated status will one day be jeopardized for those who are vaccinated but not boosted.
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"Is the administration rethinking the definition of what it means to be fully vaccinated now that these boosters are recommended?" the reporter asked. "Should people who are eligible for a booster now get one by a certain time frame to maintain their fully vaccinated status?”
Walensky responded that it was a great question before elaborating.
"Right now, we don’t have booster eligibility for all people," she said. "So, we are going to — we have not yet changed the definition of fully vaccinated. We will continue to look at shots. We may need to update our definition of fully vaccinated in the future. But right now, what I would say is, if you’re eligible for a booster, go ahead and get your booster, and we will continue to follow.”
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The CDC has expanded eligibility for boosters, approving them for people who have received Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna shots if they are 65 and older or 18 and older living in long-term care settings, with underlying medical conditions or working in high-risk settings.
Everyone 18 and older who has received the Johnson & Johnson shot is eligible for a booster after two months.
Earlier in the briefing, Walensky encouraged the 64 million people who are still unvaccinated to go get their initial shots. But she also acknowledged that even widespread boosters won't mean an end to other coronavirus protocols.
“As you have heard me say before, we will not boost our way out of this pandemic, and no vaccine — even a boosted vaccine — provides 100% protection," Walensky said. "So even after you boost, it remains important for us to remain smart about our prevention strategies while we still have over 93% of our counties with high or moderate community transmission.”