CDC plans to 'pivot the language' on vaccination, Walensky says

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a Friday briefing that the agency is working to “pivot” its language regarding what it means to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Responding to a question about why the CDC is not changing the definition of the phrase to include a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, the health leader told reporters that it is working to “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.”

“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 added. 

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, testify before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on Capitol hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., July 20, 2021. 
(J. Scott Applewhite/Pool via REUTERS)

Previously, Walensky and others had stated that the definition of being fully vaccinated would not change from those who have received their primary series of their COVID-19 vaccine.

“So, individuals are considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 if they’ve received their primary series.  That definition is not changing,” she said during a Jan. 5 White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing. “But consistent with how public health has historically viewed or even talked about how we recommend vaccines, we are now recommending that individuals stay up to date with additional doses that they are eligible for.”

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN on Friday that the CDC had not updated the language because their recommendations are about “how well you are protected rather than a definition.”

“It becomes almost a matter of semantics,” he noted. 

“One of the things that we’re talking about from a purely public health standpoint is how well you are protected, rather than what a definition is to get someone to be required or not required,” Fauci added.

CDC data shows that 210 million Americans are now fully vaccinated. 83 million have received a booster dose.

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