Leading infectious disease specialist Dr Anthony Fauci said on Wednesday that changing the definition of fully immunized to include booster shots is a “when, not if” question.
âI don’t see that changing tomorrow or next week, but certainly if you want to talk about what optimal protection is, I don’t think anyone would say optimal protection is going to be with a third hit,â Fauci said. on CNN.
But according to Fauci, the term fully vaccinated is just a “technical, almost semantic definition,” calling it a description of the demands of things like taking classes or working at a workplace.
âTo me, as a public health person, I’m just saying get your third shot – forget what the definition is. I just want people to be optimally protected.
Cartoons about the coronavirus
Fauci’s comment comes amid an emerging debate about what is considered fully vaccinated. Pharmaceutical manufacturer Pfizer reported Wednesday that three doses of its coronavirus vaccine could offer significant protection against the omicron variant, while just two doses of the vaccine lead to a significant drop in antibody levels against the strain. This led the company’s chief scientist, Mikael Dolsten, to say that being fully vaccinated should include three doses of a vaccine to cover omicron.
âGo get your third boost and you’ll have a robust and pretty impressive antibody response,â Dolsten said. âIt’s really time to get the third boost, and you should be very encouraged by the news this morning. “
Executives join a growing number of officials who have called for additional doses of a coronavirus vaccine to be a necessary criteria to be considered fully vaccinated – a development that began just days after federal regulatory agencies have made reminders available to the general adult population and which could mark a first step in making them as mandatory as the vaccine itself.
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said last month she believed a booster should be required to be considered fully immunized after announcing the state would make all adults eligible for an additional injection before the recommendation of the federal government.
“We know that vaccinations are the most effective tool to both stop the spread of the virus and protect us and our families,” she said. âSo we’re looking at what we can do to create these incentives – and potentially these mandates – to make sure people are fully immunized, which means three shots. “
In Connecticut, Gov. Ned Lamont said he believes booster shots are needed to qualify a person as fully vaccinated and also opened eligibility to all adults for additional doses before federal approval.
âFrom my perspective, if you were vaccinated more than six months ago, you are not fully vaccinated,â Lamont said.
Currently, federal regulators consider a full vaccination to be two doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or a single dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine. But as immunity to the coronavirus threatens to wane months after individuals complete their initial vaccination regimen and the general adult population is now eligible for a booster, that understanding may evolve.
Former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Dr Scott Gottlieb said last month he believed boosters would be needed to be considered fully vaccinated – but not this year.
âI think this will ultimately be considered the three-dose vaccine, but I would be hard-pressed to believe the CDC will make that recommendation anytime soon,â Gottlieb told the CBS program âFace the Nationâ.
But Gottlieb added that some local communities or businesses might start saying that individuals need a booster to be considered fully immunized, even though that’s not the federal position.
When the conversation began last month in the days after the booster was authorized for all adults, Fauci said that at present, the data supported maintaining the current immunization guidelines, with a pattern to two doses equivalent to a complete vaccination. He also noted that officials would continue to follow emerging science around the virus and public health.
âWe’ll continue to track the data because right now when we boost people, what we’re doing is tracking them,â Fauci told ABC’s âThis Weekâ Sunday. âWe’re going to see how durable that protection is, and as we always do, you just have to follow and let the data guide your policy and let the data guide your recommendations. “