CDC Director Rochelle Walensky spoke out on Friday to say that the United States may need to “update” its definition of what it means to be “fully vaccinated” against COVID-19 as more Americans become eligible to receive booster shots.
“Right now, we don’t have booster eligibility for all people currently,” she said during a White House COVID-19 response team press briefing, according to Yahoo News. “So we have not yet changed the definition of fully vaccinated. We will continue to look at this. We may need to update our definition of fully vaccinated in the future.”
This comes two days after the Food and Drug Administration authorized booster shots for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. The FDA also authorized mixing and matching COVID-19 vaccines, which means Americans can get a different vaccine for their booster shot than their original vaccine.
Pfizer booster shots were authorized by the FDA last month.
“After considering the totality of the available scientific evidence and the deliberations of our advisory committee of independent, external experts, the FDA amended the EUA for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to allow for a booster dose in certain populations such as health care workers, teachers, and daycare staff, grocery workers and those in homeless shelters or prisons, among others,” acting FDA commissioner Janet Woodcock said in September.
“This pandemic is dynamic and evolving, with new data about vaccine safety and effectiveness becoming available every day,” she added. “As we learn more about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, including the use of a booster dose, we will continue to evaluate the rapidly changing science and keep the public informed.”
Back in August, President Joe Biden had claimed that booster shots would be widely available to Americans in September. However, the FDA’s vaccine advisory committee would go on to vote 16 to two against recommending boosters for the general population, and 18-0 in favor of recommending boosters for people 65 and older or at high risk of severe COVID-19.
The latest authorization from the FDA means that any recipient of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine can receive a second dose of the J&J, Moderna, or Pfizer vaccines at least two months after receiving their first shot. As for those who got the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, only seniors or people at higher risk of COVID-19 because of underlying medical or workplace conditions can get a booster shot at this time.