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CDC says staying ‘up to date’ on COVID-19 vaccination means getting booster shot

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a Wednesday update that staying “up to date” on COVID-19 vaccinations means getting a booster shot. 

The agency said that people who are up to date with their vaccines are “well protected from serious illness or other health outcomes.”

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“CDC recommends that people remain up to date with their vaccines, which includes additional doses for individuals who are immunocompromised or booster doses at regular time points. Individuals who are moderately or severely immunocompromised should get an additional primary shot and a booster shot,” the agency said.

Pharmacist Kenni Clark injects Robert Champion, of Lawrence, Mass., with a booster dosage of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination clinic at City of Lawrence's "The Center," which serves seniors, families and the community, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021, in Lawrence.

Pharmacist Kenni Clark injects Robert Champion, of Lawrence, Mass., with a booster dosage of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination clinic at City of Lawrence’s “The Center,” which serves seniors, families and the community, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021, in Lawrence.
(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

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According to CDC data, 206.8 million Americans are fully vaccinated against the disease and 72.3 million people have received a booster dose. 

Officials have urged all Americans who are eligible to get boosted amidst the spread of the omicron and delta variants of the coronavirus. 

Health authorities have said that people who are boosted have a greater level of protection against omicron – which now makes up more than 95% of new cases in the U.S. – than those who are not.

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The CDC recommends that every person 5 years of age and older receive a primary series of a COVID-19 vaccine to be considered fully vaccinated. 

“CDC surveillance data and other studies from around the world have demonstrated the benefit of a booster dose after receiving only a primary series, including decreased risk of infection, severe disease and death,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters at a White House COVID-19 response team briefing on Wednesday.

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In addition, the White House explained that there are “no plans” to change the definition of what it means to be fully vaccinated. 

“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.” White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a December interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “But, there’s no doubt that optimum vaccination is with a booster. I mean, there is no doubt about that.”

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White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said people are considered to be fully vaccinated if they receive their primary series of vaccines, highlighting that the vast majority of hospitalizations and deaths are among the unvaccinated. 

The CDC said it would continue to follow the evidence related to vaccine effectiveness and protection against variants and keep recommendations current.

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