With omicron, changing what it means to be fully immunized is “on the table”. What we know today

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What does it take to become fully immunized?

Sarah Tew / CNET

For the latest news and information on the coronavirus pandemic, visit WHO and CDC websites.

If you have received two doses of Moderna or Pfizer, the news on omicron is not promising. The new variant “has the unfortunate ability to spread very, very efficiently,” Dr Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Advisor to President Joe Biden, said Friday on CNBC. The best news is, said Fauci, that boosters can help guard against omicron infection and reduce symptoms. “There is no doubt that the optimal vaccination is with a booster. There is no doubt,” Fauci said. The importance of a booster is so essential to protecting against the variant that Fauci has said redefining what it means to be fully “vaccinated” from two shots to three “is certainly on the table.”

And while omicron spreads, the majority of cases in the United States are from the delta variant, against which vaccines remain effective. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an unvaccinated person is eight times more likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19 and 14 times more likely to die from it compared to a fully vaccinated person.

But omicron, with its ability to infect those who are fully vaccinated, is forcing health officials to reconsider what it means to be “fully vaccinated.” Here’s what we know today about why the CDC might change the definition from two to three. Find out more, where are the latest on the Moderna booster shots, what you need to know about Pfizer antiviral pill and how choose between vaccine reminders.


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How many doses of COVID vaccine do you need to be considered “fully immunized?” “

According to the CDC, you are fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the second dose of Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, or two weeks after a single dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The CDC also considers you to be fully vaccinated if you have received a single dose vaccine. listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization Where any combination two-dose vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration or WHO listed for emergency use.

Why would the definition of “fully vaccinated” be changed from two doses of mRNA vaccines to three?

Over the past two weeks, as preliminary studies showed omicron’s ability to infect those considered fully vaccinated, the definition has started to change, if not formally, at least practically, of two doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine. COVID at three.

“If you want to be optimally protected, absolutely get a booster”, Fauci said on ABC’s This Week, when asked if three shots would become the norm.

Robert wachter, president of the University of California, San Francisco Department of Medicine, said he believes the definition change will come soon. “It’s more and more clear that if you have three hits you’re in pretty good shape,” Wachter said during a COVID-19 online discussion hosted by the San Francisco Chronicle on December 10.

“I think we’ll stop calling people with two fully immunized vaccines within a week or two,” he said. “Omicron is going to make this case quite strikingly.”

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How many images do you need to protect from omicron?

Sarah Tew / CNET

Will we need an omicron-specific booster to guard against the virus?

If two doses of Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine are not enough to protect against omicron, would we need a variant-specific booster to restore protection? According to Fauci, no. “At this point, there’s no need for a variant-specific booster,” Fauci said on Wednesday. “

But going from the definition of two doses to three is going to take work. CDC says more than 203 million people are currently “fully vaccinated” with Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson vaccines. That’s 61% percent of the total United States population. However, 58 million in the United States have received a recall, or just 28% of the population. “This is why getting more Americans vaccinated and boosted is at the heart of the president’s plan to fight COVID and tackle omicron this winter,” Jeff Zients, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said at the time. from the White House briefing Wednesday.

How about getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

This week, the CDC recommended that people get one of the mRNA vaccines – Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine – instead of Johnson & Johnson. The recommendation came days after a preliminary study in South Africa suggested the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine could produce “virtually no antibody protection,” against omicron, Bloomberg News reported.

CNET reached out to Johnson & Johnson for comment but did not immediately get a response.

What happens next?

Vaccine makers are already asking for three doses as a new standard. “Although two doses of the vaccine may still offer protection against serious disease caused by the omicron strain, it is clear from this preliminary data that protection is improved with a third dose of our vaccine,” said Albert Bourla, president of Pfizer. said in a press release on the first results regarding the continued efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine.

The next step would be for the CDC to change its definition of what it means to be “fully vaccinated”. CNET contacted the CDC for comment but did not immediately get a response.

To learn more, here’s what we know about the omicron variant and how the the new mutation compares to delta. And this is how store your vaccination card on your phone.

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended for health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have about a health problem or health goals.

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