On Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested the possibility of changing the definition of “fully vaccinated” as the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surged due to the omicron variant.
For the past few weeks, reporters have asked Fauci and the White House about a change in the definition. The definition of fully vaccinated currently states that a person is fully vaccinated when they have received two doses of a Pfizer or Moderna regimen or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
With the recent appearance and surge of the omicron variant, many individuals have suggested the definition should change to include a booster shot.
Fauci has maintained for nearly a month that the definition would not change unless new data implied it should. Friday morning, he suggested that some terms may change concerning the COVID pandemic in the U.S.
“It is a bit of semantics in that fully vaccinated for the purpose of the regulations and requirements that people have is to be what are you considered as being fully vaccinated. But there’s no doubt that optimum vaccination is with a booster. I mean, there is no doubt about that,” said Fauci on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.
He also discussed the difficulty of pushing the term “mandates.”
“Mandates: that’s a radioactive word,” Fauci added in the interview. “‘Requirements’ — people seem to respond better to that. They work. We are never going to get out of this outbreak if we still have 50 million people who, for reasons that are very difficult to understand, refuse to get vaccinated.”
Fauci first suggested that health officials would look at changing the definition in November when he told Fox’s “State of the Union” host Dana Bash, “We’re going to take a look right now at what the durability is of the booster.”
However, he continued to reiterate that the definition would remain the same for now.
This week, the new omicron variant has driven cases up across the country, resulting in a new CDC warning of a more significant than expected surge. New York and Florida have seen new cases double since mid-November. California and Texas have also seen sharp rises in cases.