Could the definition of “fully vaccinated” change?


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ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) — December 2020 was the beginning of a spike in COVID-19 cases across the United States ahead of the vaccine rollout. One year later, additional doses of vaccine, like booster shots, are now available. Could the definition of fully vaccinated change?

“I think the definitions might change but the recommendations in the States at the moment is that everyone should get their third dose,” Dr. John Moore, professor at Weill Cornell Medicine, said.

The Centers for Disease Control hasn’t changed its definition. The agency still defines someone as fully vaccinated if it’s been two weeks since their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna or two weeks since their single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot. At the same time, the CDC is urging all adults to get a booster shot once they’re eligible.

The mixed message – that you’re considered “fully vaccinated” without a booster shot, but you should still get a booster shot – is admittedly confusing. To make matters even more complicated, kids aren’t yet eligible to get booster shots, so any change in the CDC’s definition of “fully vaccinated” would need to have separate criteria for those under 18.

Even Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, left the door open to changing the definition of fully vaccinated if it seems necessary.

“We’ll continue to follow the data, because right now when we’re boosting people, what we’re doing is following them,” Fauci said in an interview with ABC. “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.”

On Tuesday, Governor Kathy Hochul announced the Southern Tier as 85.21 cases per 100,000 which is the highest case rate in New York State. Hospitalizations in the region have reached 193 and in the Finger Lakes region, it is much higher with 516 residents hospitalized.

“Other areas of the state have much higher rates of vaccination and that has definitely been proven to be what’s really strongest in the fight against COVID-19,” Dr. Justin Nistico, infectious disease expert at Arnot Health, continued.

As the Omicron variant spreads in New York, Delta continues to surge. Viruses mutate and change their genetic makeup in order to survive. Experts say more versions of COVID could pop up if the spread does not stop.

“What Dr. Fauci always says is that viruses cannot mutate if they don’t replicate. We have to stop the chain of transmission,” Sarah Mattison, deputy director of Chemung County Public Health, added.

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