Will the definition of 'fully vaccinated' against COVID-19 change?

Posted at 3:43 PM, Dec 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-13 17:31:48-05

(WXYZ) — Dr. Anthony Fauci says the definition of fully vaccinated for COVID is not changing – for now.  But the top White House medical adviser considers booster shots to be the optimal care. 

A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after getting the second dose of either Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccine, or two weeks after getting Johnson and Johnson’s single-shot vaccine. As to why and when that term may change, well, it will most likely be based on research. At the moment, we have minimal data on the new variant omicron. And we really don’t know yet if a large percentage of fully vaccinated people are developing severe disease. What we mostly have to go on is a couple of small preliminary studies against this variant. One from Pfizer and another from the University of Oxford. They both indicate that our two-dose vaccines are not fending off omicron very well. Scientists are seeing a large decrease in neutralizing antibodies. But these tests were done in a lab. What we really need is plenty of real-world data. And we need to look closely at what that real-world data is telling us. If we find out that our initial vaccination regimen is not protecting us against omicron, and that a booster shot is doing a great job of fending off this variant, then that’s likely when the definition of fully vaccinated will change.

It's very unfortunate that we now have the first reported death in the UK due to the omicron variant. However, not many details have been released, other than the person was diagnosed at a hospital. So we don’t know if this person was fully vaccinated or boosted or unvaccinated. And we don’t know their age, or if they had underlying health conditions which can increase one’s risk of developing severe disease. As for the 10 people who have been hospitalized in the UK, we know their ages range between 18 and 85. And that most have had two vaccine doses. But again, we have limited data. And we need the full picture in order to know who is most at risk - and if our vaccines are helping or not.

One thing I think we can take away from this is to stop thinking of omicron as a mild variant. And to protect yourself as best you can - by getting fully vaccinated first, and then getting your booster shot 6 months later.