By Weston Blasi
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is not altering its definition of what a “fully vaccinated” individual means to include COVID boosters, according to the organization’s director.
“The definition of fully vaccinated has not changed,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said during a White House COVID-19 Response briefing on Tuesday.
“We are absolutely encouraging those who are eligible for a boost six months after those mRNA doses to get your boost, but we are not changing the definition of fully vaccinated right now,” Walensky continued.
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Currently, a person is considered fully vaccinated by the CDC two weeks after receiving the second dose of either the Pfizer /zigman2/quotes/202877789/composite PFE +0.95% /BioNTech /zigman2/quotes/214419716/composite BNTX +2.93% or Moderna /zigman2/quotes/205619834/composite MRNA -1.51% vaccine, or two weeks after receiving the single dose the Johnson & Johnson /zigman2/quotes/201724570/composite JNJ +1.68% shot.
Walensky’s comments indicate that a change to the organization’s fully-vaccinated designation could happen in the future, but this isn’t in its plans at the moment. The CDC has asked all eligible people to get boosted as SARS-CoV-2 variants like the omicron and delta variants have appeared.
Chief medical advisor to the president Dr. Anthony Fauci echoed similar sentiments on COVID vaccine boosters last week during an interview with Reuters .
“Right now, officially, ‘fully vaccinated’ equals two shots of the mRNA and one shot of the J&J, but without a doubt that could change. That’s on the table for discussion,” Fauci said.
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The omicron variant, which was first reported by scientists in South Africa, was declared a “ variant of concern ” by the World Health Organization (WHO) last week. The omicron variant’s transmissibility and its resistance to vaccines and other treatments are still being studied.
The comments from the CDC and Fauci come as the U.S. government considers implementing stricter travel restrictions for international travelers coming into the country in light of the omicron variant. More specifics could come on Thursday, when President Joe Biden is set to give a speech on the country’s plan to control the COVID-19 pandemic .
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The first confirmed case of the Omicron variant was identified in the U.S. on Wednesday.
The global tally for confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached 263 million on Tuesday, and the death toll rose to 5.21 million, according to data from Johns Hopkins University .