‘Fully vaccinated’ doesn’t have to include boosters

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Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that COVID-19 vaccine boosters are not necessary to be considered fully vaccinated — despite previously suggesting the extra shot would be crucial to get to that point.

The White House’s chief medical adviser said the data currently available does not indicate that federal officials should change their current criteria for what is considered fully vaccinated against the virus.

“If you look at the data that we have, fully vaccinated right now, by definition, is the original two doses [of] … Pfizer and Moderna and a single dose with [the one-shot Johnson & Johnson],” Fauci told ABC anchor Martha Raddatz on “This Week.”

“We’ll continue to follow the data, because right now when we’re boosting people, what we’re doing is following them. We’re going to see what the durability of that protection is, and as we always do, you just follow and let the data guide your policy and let the data guide your recommendations.”

Still, Fauci recommended that all eligible adults 18 and older get a booster.

“I mean, the vaccines themselves clearly are still highly effective, but you want to make sure the durability of that protection is longer, and that’s the reason why you get boosted, because we know no vaccine lasts forever,” Fauci added to CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci backtracked on his earlier statements saying that COVID-19 vaccine boosters are not necessary to be considered fully vaccinated.
Dr. Anthony Fauci backtracked on his earlier statements saying that COVID-19 vaccine boosters are not necessary to be considered fully vaccinated.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

But Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, left the door open to vaccine guidelines potentially changing.

“We’re going to be doing the best we can to keep the American public optimally protected. If that means that that’s going to be a boost that absolutely everyone will have to have, then so be it, we’ll do it that way,” Fauci said.

“But it will be guided by the science, and people should not be put off by the fact that as time goes by and we learn more and more about the protection, that we might modify the guidelines.”

Despite the backtracking, Anthony Fauci still recommends that people 18 and older receive the booster shot.
Despite the backtracking, Anthony Fauci still recommends that people 18 and older receive the booster shot.
REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

Fauci previously said that from an immunologist’s perspective, booster shots should be part of the “standard regimen.”

“A booster isn’t an add-on, and a booster is part of what the original regimen should be. So that when we look back on this, we’re going to see that boosters are essential for an optimal vaccine regimen,” he said at last week’s 2021 STAT Summit featuring healthcare leaders and company CEOs.

Democratic Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has said he believes being “fully vaccinated” now means receiving a booster shot.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said that while getting the COVID-19 vaccine booster didn't change current guidelines, he said he would be up to changing them if need be.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said that while getting the COVID-19 vaccine booster didn’t change current guidelines, he said he would be up to changing them if need be.
J. Scott Applewhite-Pool/Getty Images

“We’re 11 months into the vaccination program. In my view, if you were vaccinated more than six months ago, you’re not fully vaccinated,” Lamont said last week, NBC Connecticut reported.

Federal regulators last week expanded eligibility for the additional doses to all adults over the age of 18.

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