A debate is emerging about what it means to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as some state and local officials push to change the definition to include an additional dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
The governors of two states indicated last week that they believe three injections are necessary for a full vaccination, but public health experts warn that such a move would lead to massive confusion and a return to the fragmented and dispersed response that marked the first. days of the pandemic. .
“We just got out of a lot of confusion where most people weren’t aware of, or couldn’t figure out, if they were eligible for a booster,” said Jennifer Kates, senior vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation.
“If states go ahead and change their definition of who is qualifying as fully vaccinated … that could create a lot more confusion again, because it would have these different standards across the country,” he said.
While only two governors have said they believe the definition of fully vaccinated should include a booster shot, others could follow as concerns grow among officials about declining immunity levels.
Governor of New Mexico. Michelle Lujan GrishamMichelle Lynn Lujan Grisham Connecticut Governor Says Boosters Needed To Get People Fully Vaccinated New Mexico Governor Says Full Vaccination Must Include Boosters New Mexico Extends Eligibility For COVID-19 Boosters To All Adults MORE (D) on Nov. 17, he said he believes three doses should be considered fully vaccinated, and the state, which currently does not have any vaccine mandates, was considering implementing some.
“We … are looking at what we can do to create those incentives, and potentially mandates, to make sure people are fully vaccinated, which means three shots,” he said.
State Health and Human Services Secretary David Scrase said he anticipates a public health order will be issued in the coming weeks on updating the definition.
Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont (D) similarly said last week that he believes booster shots are necessary to qualify a person as fully vaccinated, but did not indicate that health orders will be received.
The debate over what qualifies as fully vaccinated is linked to the booster controversy.
President BidenJoe Biden US Lawmakers Come to Taiwan to Meet with Local Officials Biden Meets with the Coast Guard on Thanksgiving Five Reasons Biden and the Republican Party are Thankful This Season MORE over the summer he promised sweeping reinforcements for all Americans by the end of September, long before the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had examined the evidence.
While officials were careful to say that the booster program depended on the FDA and CDC giving the green light, scientists inside and outside the government argued that there was insufficient evidence to show that protection against serious illness and hospitalization fell. at levels that warrant reinforcement.
In a nod to conflicting views, officials initially authorized boosters for people 65 and older, in addition to anyone at high risk due to their line of work or where they live, or those with an underlying medical condition.
The conditions were wide, but the audience was confused. So last week, administration officials simplified it and authorized a booster of any COVID vaccine for anyone over the age of 18, with certain time stipulations.
Amesh Adalja, a senior fellow at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Safety, said the debate over boosters and changing what it means to be fully vaccinated further obscures the primary purpose of coronavirus vaccines.
“It is the first and second doses that change the trajectory of the pandemic, those that protect hospital capacity. They are not reinforcements. Our hospitals do not receive pressure from people who are fully vaccinated and who have serious infections,” said Adalja.
Federal health officials have been encouraging all adults who have been vaccinated in the past six months to receive a booster shot, but also insist that no boosters are required.
“The definition of fully vaccinated is two doses of a Modern or Pfizer vaccine, as well as one dose of a J&J vaccine,” said the CDC director. Rochelle WalenskyRochelle Walensky Israel begins vaccinating children 5-11 COVID-19 cases in children by up to 32 percent: Pediatricians Watch Live: White House COVID-19 Response Team Holds Press Conference MORE he said during a recent briefing at the White House.
This week, the best infectious disease doctor in the country Anthony FauciAnthony FauciPoll: Most Thanksgiving Hosts Not Required COVID-19 Vaccine Masquerade Overnight Medical Care – Feds and Military Have Top 90 Percent Vaccination Rate Fauci Says changing the definition of fully vaccinated to include boosters is ‘on the table’ MORE said that can change.
“At this point, officially, being fully vaccinated is equivalent to two injections of mRNA and one injection of J&J, but that could certainly change,” Fauci told Reuters in an interview. “That is on the table to discuss.”
In a separate interview on ABC’s This Week, Fauci said there needs to be more information on the people who have received reinforcements before making any decisions.
“We’re going to see how durable that protection is, and as we always do, just go ahead and let the data guide your policy and let the data guide your recommendations,” Fauci said.
But experts said neither the states nor the federal government should have any businesses that essentially require booster injections, because it sends the wrong message about the effectiveness of the initial series.
“I don’t think there is any scientific basis to say that someone who has received two doses of vaccines is equivalent to someone who is not vaccinated. There is just no science to back it up. Actually, it is wrong,” Adalja said.
Paul Offit, director of the Center for Vaccine Education at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, said his hospital has a mandate for vaccinations and he believes it would not make sense to require a booster in addition to the normal series, even for those over 50 who may be they particularly benefit from additional antibodies.
“Should we call everyone over 50 and tell them they can’t work here anymore until they get a third dose, given the paucity of data to support that? No,” Offit said.
The third dose is “a detour from what is really important, which is vaccinating the unvaccinated,” Offit said.
“We are not going to overcome this pandemic by promoting people who have already been vaccinated. We are going to overcome this pandemic by vaccinating the unvaccinated,” he added. “That should be the focus.”