CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the agency is reviewing its definition of how many COVID-19 shots are necessary to be considered “fully vaccinated” — as experts fear that the original vaccine regimens don’t provide enough protection against the Omicron variant.
“We’re examining this definition, of course, but what I want to be very clear about is that CDC recommendations for right now say that everyone who is over the age of 18, when they become eligible should get their booster shot,” Walensky said on CNBC’s “The News with Shepard Smith” on Monday.
Currently, the agency defines being fully vaccinated as two weeks after the second dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines or two weeks after the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
But with the emergence of Omicron, Walensky said a booster shot may be necessary.
“What we do know about the Omicron variant that’s got over 50 mutations and because of those mutations, just being vaccinated with two doses may not be enough,” Walensky said. “And so we really do need people to get boosted in order to increase their protection, especially against severe disease and death.”
Pfizer and Moderna have both said that initial studies show their booster shots significantly increase antibody levels against the Omicron variant, which is believed to be more transmissible than previous strains of coronavirus.
Omicron has already spread to become the most dominant strain in the US, accounting for at least 73% of infections last week, according to the CDC.