The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday said it was not changing its definition of “full vaccination” against the coronavirus. The agency changed the emphasis on the proper regimen and how it referred the shots.
The agency said that three doses of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna’s vaccines should be considered “up-to-date” inoculations, and that Johnson & Johnson recipients should receive a second dose, preferably of Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech, to also be considered up to date.
This move indicated a shift by federal health officials in how Americans should talk about vaccine schedules. Later Wednesday, the C.D.C. The recommendation for booster shots was expanded to include all Americans over 12 years old.
“Consistent with how public health has historically viewed or even talked about how we recommend vaccines, we are now recommending that individuals stay up to date with additional doses that they are eligible for,” Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the C.D.C. At a White House news conference on Wednesday, the director said.
The C.D.C. did not change the definition of what qualifies as full vaccination — a subject of intense interest to corporations, schools, state health departments and professional sports leagues, which have themselves been reconsidering what it means to be fully vaccinated.
“The technical definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ — two doses of an mRNA vaccine or one dose of the J & J vaccine — has not changed,” Kristen Nordlund, a C.D.C. In a statement, a spokeswoman said. “Individuals are considered fully vaccinated once they have received their primary series.”
She added that the agency recommend that people “stay ‘up to date’ by receiving any additional doses they are eligible for, according to C.D.C.’s recommendations, to ensure they have optimal protection.”
Federal officials have typically referred to people as fully vaccinated two weeks after a first dose of Johnson & Johnson or a second dose of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. While studies have showed that protection against infection has waned in fully vaccinated people and can be strengthened by a booster, two doses still offer strong protection against severe Covid-19 — the true goal of vaccination, some vaccine experts have argued.
It is not clear what impact the change will have on institutions. Many schools, businesses and governments have relied on the C.D.C.’s definition of “fully vaccinated” to establish mandates, requiring people to complete a two- or one-dose series in order to go to school, eat at a restaurant or stay employed.
The move on Wednesday, Ms. Nordlund said, was intended to make Covid-19 vaccines “align with standard language C.D.C. uses about other vaccinations.” It also accounted for differences in eligibility for booster shots, since younger adolescents and children are not yet recommended by the C.D.C. for booster doses. Some people are also still not five months out from receiving a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, six months from a second dose of Moderna or two months from a first dose of Johnson & Johnson, the authorized intervals for boosters.
The Coronavirus Pandemic: Key Information
The global surge. The virus is spreading faster than ever at the start of 2022, but the last days of 2021 brought the encouraging news that the Omicron variant produces less severe illness than earlier waves. Therefore, governments are focusing more attention on expanding vaccinations than limiting spread.
“C.D.C. recommends that individuals stay ‘up to date’ by receiving any additional doses they are eligible for, according to C.D.C.’s recommendations, to ensure they have optimal protection against Covid-19,” Ms. Nordlund said.
Top federal health officials, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci included, had pushed for the administration to change how it discussed vaccine scheduling. They argued that Moderna and Pfizer should be considered three dose vaccines. Some officials wanted to keep the current schedule as it is.
That change could have carried significant legal implications, potentially intensifying challenges to vaccination requirements, as the Biden administration’s attempt to mandate that large employers require employees to be vaccinated is already bogged down in the courts.
“If you think about the different requirements,” Jeffrey D. Zients, the White House Covid-19 response coordinator, said at the Wednesday news briefing, “that has not changed, and we do not have any plans to change that.”
Source: NY Times