Government Officials Are Issuing This New Warning to Vaccinated People
Just a few months ago, health officials in the U.S. were divided on whether or not COVID booster shots were actually necessary. Now, this additional dose is proving even more essential than anyone anticipated. Emerging research shows that the immunity granted from the existing vaccines is waning after five to six months, but boosters are bringing vaccine effectiveness to new heights. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have only officially authorized this additional shot for certain groups of people. But while these agencies might expand eligibility soon, some state officials are no longer waiting.
According to U.S. News & World Report, at least 15 states have decided to go ahead and expand booster eligibility to adults: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and Utah. On Nov. 18, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont did not mince words in a warning to vaccinated people. The governor declared that the definition of who is "fully vaccinated" should now include all three shots, especially for those who are far out from their initial regimen.
"We're 11 months into the vaccination program. In my view, if you were vaccinated more than six months ago, you're not fully vaccinated," Lamont said during a press conference, per NBC Connecticut. "If you were vaccinated more than six months ago, now is the time and go get that booster. I urge you to get it now."
The CDC previously expressed that its official definition of "fully vaccinated" could change with boosters. On Oct. 22, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, said that although the agency is not changing the definition right now when booster eligibility hasn't officially expanded to all people, it would consider an update eventually.
"We will continue to look at this. We may need to update our definition of 'fully vaccinated' in the future," she explained. The director also recently reiterated the effectiveness of an additional shot for fully vaccinated individuals.
"When we compare rates of COVID-19 disease between those who are vaccinated with two doses and those who have received a booster dose, the rate of disease is markedly lower for those who received their booster shot, demonstrating our boosters are working," Walensky said during a White House COVID Response Team press briefing on Nov. 17.
The CDC isn't explicitly advising that fully vaccinated people or state officials side-step official guidelines early. But Walensky's colleague, White House COVID adviser Anthony Fauci, MD, recently recommended this, telling Insider on Nov. 16 that his goal right now is to "make it crystal clear that if you have been vaccinated—go get boosted."
"Right now, don't make it complicated," Fauci told the news outlet. "Make it really simple. If you had a primary vaccination, get a booster."
According to The New York Times, both Pfizer and Moderna have submitted requests to the FDA to expand booster authorization to all adults in the U.S., and the agency might grant both vaccine manufacturer's requests by this week. The current guidelines—which restrict boosters to recipients of either mRNA vaccine who are 65 years old and older or younger and at high risk for COVID—are broad, but tens of millions are still technically ineligible.
Fauci added to Insider that the FDA and the CDC's current guidelines have caused confusion on who is and isn't eligible for a booster right now. According to the CDC, while more than 31 million have gotten a booster dose already, that's just 16 percent of the entire population of fully vaccinated people. And only 37 percent of people 65 years old and older have gotten boosted, despite this entire age group being eligible.
"We have got to get almost everybody who's gotten the primary vaccination regimen, we've got to get all of them boosted," Fauci told the news outlet. "Even though, for the most part, the vaccines absent the boost protect quite well—particularly among younger people—against hospitalization."