Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Rochelle Walensky said Friday that Americans will need to get a booster shot of COVID-19 vaccine to be considered “up-to-date” on vaccination.
During Friday’s COVID-19 response team briefing, Walensky said health officials need to “pivot” their language so that individuals who are boosted are considered up-to-date on vaccination. Until now, simply completing the two-dose series of COVID-19 shots, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, was considered to be sufficient for full vaccination.
“What we really are working to do is pivot the language to make sure that everybody is as up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccines as they personally could be, should be, based on when they got their last vaccine,” Walensky said. “So importantly, right now we’re pivoting our language, we really want to make sure people are up-to-date.”
“That means if you recently got your second dose, you’re not eligible for a booster, you’re up-to-date. If you are eligible for a booster and you haven’t gotten it, you’re not up-to-date and you need to get your booster in order to be up-to-date,” she continued. (RELATED: Could Omicron Finally ‘Shut Down The Virus?’ These Experts Say Yes)
The CDC released new research Friday indicating that booster shots retain high levels of efficacy against the Omicron strain of COVID-19. While rates of infection are still higher in unvaccinated Americans, and risk of hospitalization or death is much higher in the unvaccinated, there have been an increasing number of breakthrough infections of vaccinated individuals with the arrival of Omicron. That includes those who are boosted.
This week, the CDC released a study which found that natural immunity from prior infection provided more protection against reinfection or serious illness than vaccines alone for the Delta strain of COVID-19. Still, some institutions are beginning to require booster shots for students or employees, and natural immunity is typically not accepted as a substitute for vaccination.
Walensky’s statement contradicts the guidance of the World Health Organization, which recommends children under age 18 don’t get boosted and that the extra doses be prioritized for the most vulnerable.