CDC: Definition of fully vaccinated 'is not changing'

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, said Jan. 5 that the agency has no plans to require a booster shot for people to be considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

"Individuals are considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 if they've received their primary series. That definition is not changing," Dr. Walensky said during a White House press briefing.

The announcement comes amid a national surge in COVID-19 cases fueled by the omicron variant and as litigation is pending regarding federal vaccination mandates. Additionally, according to The Hill, many health experts have called for changing the definition, particularly amid the latest surge.

Although the definition of "fully vaccinated" remains one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or two doses of the Pfizer vaccine or the Moderna vaccine, the CDC recommends staying "up to date" with vaccinations. This means three doses of Pfizer or Moderna's vaccines for adults who received those as primary shots, and adults who received a primary shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should receive a second shot, with Moderna or Pfizer preferred in most situations, according to the agency's website.

"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. Walensky said during the press briefing. "And we have now available how you can stay up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines based on what vaccine you have received and what age group you are in."

The CDC is also now recommending booster shots for people 12 and older.

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