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What does it mean to be ‘fully vaccinated’ against COVID-19?

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"Fully vaccinated" still means only two shots of an mRNA vaccine from Moderna or Pfizer, or one of Johnson & Johnson's shots, according to the CDC.

Sarah Tew / CNET
Visit the websites of the WHO and the CDC for the most up-to-date news and information on the coronavirus pandemic.

Visitors to Hawaii may soon have to show proof that they have received a COVID-19 booster shot in order to be considered "fully vaccinated" against COVID-19 and avoid a mandatory five-day quarantine period as public health officials around the world struggle with what it means to be fully vaccinated against a mutating virus.

The update to the state's guidelines for "Safe Travels" could soon be announced, but the state would give people two weeks notice, Governor David Ige said in a recent livestream with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. A spokeswoman for Ige's office told ABC News on Wednesday that the policy was still being discussed.

Currently, two doses of a PFizer or Moderna mRNA vaccine or a Johnson & Johnson shot are considered enough to skip Hawaii's isolation period. But the COVID infection rate has risen in the state of Aloha, with more than 6,000 cases registered just on Tuesday, bringing the current number to 176,000 infections. (Hawaii's entire population is 1.46 million people.)

The state's potential new definition of "fully vaccinated" will differ from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which still maintains "individuals are considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 if they have received their primary series," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a COVID briefing in the White House on January 5th. "That definition does not change ... but we now recommend individuals keep up to date with additional doses they are entitled to."

As of Tuesday, nearly 75% of Hawaiians have received an entire first series of vaccinations, including 30.5% who had received a booster.

For more, here's the latest on Modern booster shots, what you need to know about Pfizer antiviral pill and how to choose from the vaccine boosters. The article continues below.

How many COVID vaccine doses do you need to be considered 'fully vaccinated'?

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

The CDC also considers you fully vaccinated if you received a single-dose vaccine listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization or a combination of the two-dose vaccines approved by the FDA or listed by the WHO for emergency use.

Although the official definition of "fully vaccinated" is unlikely to change, the CDC Web site replaced the term "fully vaccinated", meaning maximum protected, with the more general description "updated."

White House Medical Adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has said that three shots should be considered the new baseline - part of the primary series of vaccinations rather than a "booster".

Fauci said his team has gone completely away from using "fully vaccinated" in favor of the phrase "keep your vaccinations up to date."

"Right now, optimal protection is with a third shot of an mRNA or a second shot of a J&J," Fauci said at a National Institutes of Health presentation earlier this month.

Israel's national coronavirus-tsar, Dr. Salman Zarka, told his country must prepare for a fourth dose of an mRNA vaccine. Fauci has said the need for a fourth jab is also "conceivable" in the United States, but not just yet.

"In the future, we may need an extra shot, but right now we hope we will have a higher degree of durability of protection from that booster shot," Fauci said at a White House briefing on Dec. 29. "We" will take it one step at a time, retrieve the data from the third boost and then make decisions based on scientific data. "

Experts say CDC's definition of 'fully vaccinated' should include COVID booster shots

As preliminary studies show the ability of omicrons to infect those who received a first series of shots online, medical experts say the terminology needs to change.

In an op-ed in The Hill on Sunday, Dr. Dorry Segev, professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the year-old standard for the two primary shots of an mRNA vaccine or one of Johnson & Johnsons "has not aged well."

Five months after being "fully vaccinated", as defined by the CDC, "our antibody levels are likely to have dropped significantly, and with them our first line of defense against acquiring and replicating - and thus secreting and spreading - the virus."

Segev urged the agency to add booster shots to its definition of fully vaccinated.

"If it [was] important to distinguish between vaccinated and unvaccinated, when the CDC first established this definition, now it is equally important to distinguish between boosted and non-boosted, "he wrote." To put it more bluntly, a person whose last dose of SARS- The CoV-2 vaccine was over five months ago should no longer be considered 'fully vaccinated' and is probably no longer protected enough to be around strangers indoors. "

Changing the terminology will encourage some vaccine-hesitant or "booster-hesitant" Americans, Segev added.

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How many shots should be protected from omicron?

Sarah Tew / CNET

Why do I need a booster shot anyway?

Mounting of evidence shows COVID vaccine protection decreases over time and that booster shot are needed to "meet" COVID-19-fighting antibodies, especially against omicron. Several studies indicate, for example, that Pfizer's vaccine begins to decline after just two to three months.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration extended the approval of boosters to include everyone 12 and older at least five months after receiving a second dose of the mRNA vaccines or two months after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Breakthrough cases of COVID-19 in individuals who have completed their initial vaccinations have increased markedly with omicron.

Will three vaccine doses become standard? Fire?

Although the definition of fully vaccinated has not changed, three doses have become the de facto standard for many. "Although two doses of the vaccine may still offer protection against serious illness caused by the omicron strain, it is clear from these preliminary data that protection has been improved with a third dose of our vaccine," Pfizer President Albert Bourla said in a statement. on early results. of the continued efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine.

Will there be one fourth shot? Israel has already begun rolling out a fourth vaccine to doctors, people aged 60 or older and people who are immunocompromised. The country recently began a study on the effectiveness of another booster that tested 154 healthcare professionals at Sheba Medical Center. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports that a fourth dose of vaccine seems as safe as the third dose and fivefold the vaccine protection.

At last week's National Institutes of Health presentation, Fauci stressed the importance of first collecting and analyzing data from the third shot before considering a fourth dose: "I would say we need to find out what the durability of the protection of the third shot is before we start thinking about the fourth shot. "

Many schools, businesses, and countries demand booster shots: Apple now demands that all store and business employees be boosted, and Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi announced booster shots for all public school students 12 years and older, as well as all residents who working in tourism or entertainment, according to the AP.

Spain has also recently stated that all visitors to the country should be boosted if 270 days have passed since their first vaccination.

Last fall, Connecticut's Wesleyan University became the first college to make boosters mandatory for students. Many other colleges followed suit, including all the Ivy League schools. Several colleges and universities are announcing booster requirements every day - the University Business website currently lists 326 colleges that require booster shots for students and staff.

Do we need an omicron-specific booster to protect against the virus?

If two doses of the 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, "At this point, there is no need for a variant-specific booster."

But getting people to upgrade from two doses to three will require further effort: the CDC website says nearly 209 million Americans are currently "fully vaccinated" with the Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson vaccines. That's 62.9% of the total U.S. population. However, only 79 million in the United States have received a booster - 37.8% of the so-called fully vaccinated, or about 24% of the total American population.

Moderna has said it is studying an omicron-specific vaccine as well as a multivalent shot that could protect against the alpha and delta strains, but clinical trials are not expected to start until next year.

When can I get a booster shot?

The CDC says you can "ensure you are optimally protected against COVID-19" by being vaccinated and getting a booster. If you received one of the mRNA vaccines from Moderna or Pfizer, the CDC says you should get a booster at least five months after your second dose. If you have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, see the next section.

The Moderna vaccine, Spikevax, is only approved for adults aged 18 and over. The FDA has approved the Pfizer vaccine for people aged 16 and over and granted emergency permits to children aged 5 to 15 years.

On January 5, the CDC extended its booster shot recommendation to include teens ages 12 to 17. "It is vital that we protect our children and teens from COVID-19 infection and the complications of serious illness," Walensky said. "This booster dose will provide optimized protection against COVID-19 and the Omicron variant. I urge all parents to keep their children up to date with the CDC's COVID-19 vaccine recommendations."

What about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

The CDC website states "optimal" protection after receiving another shot of the single-dose J & J / Janssen COVID-19 vaccine at least two months after the first.

Last year, the agency recommended Moderna or Pfizer mRNA vaccines over Johnson & Johnson's viral vector shot, referring to a rare but dangerous blood clot side effect. But a booster of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine provides strong protection against the omicron variant of COVID-19 - stronger, even, than Pfizer's connectors - according to new research.

A December 30 survey of 69,000 South African healthcare workers found that among people who already received one dose of the J&J vaccine, a booster given six to nine months later improved their odds of hospitalization from 63% to 85%.

A separate study conducted by Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center found that a J&J booster given to individuals who initially received two doses of Pfizer's mRNA vaccine generated a 41-fold increase in antibody response within one month compared to only a 17 -fold increase when given. a booster of the Pfizer vaccine.

For more, here's what we know about omicron variant and how new mutation is compared with delta. And here's how to do it save your vaccine card on your phone.

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

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