Boosters aren’t add-ons; they’re part of the original regimen. But you don’t have to get boosters to be considered fully vaccinated – or wait, maybe you do? Dr. Anthony Fauci argued that boosters shouldn’t be considered extra at this year’s STAT Summit, where leading figures in science and medicine meet with corporate executives, patient advocates, and government officials. But on Nov. 21, he told ABC’s This Week that the definition of “fully vaccinated” wasn’t being updated to require booster shots – though perhaps it will be in the near future. Meanwhile, in Connecticut and New Mexico, those follow-up shots are well on the way to becoming mandatory. If the man put in charge of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases can’t keep it straight, what hope is there for the average American? Oh, you think you’re good to go? Maybe you are – but for how long?
In the early days of the COVID-19 vaccine development process, there was a lot of talk about vaccine passports. Want to fly, eat in a restaurant, or watch a play? Better get the jab – and bring proof! Now, in many parts of the country, that time has come. Having verifiable status as “fully vaccinated” is becoming a critical part of life for many Americans, who can’t continue to do the sort of things they need or want to do without it.
Words matter. If the law – or even just company policy – requires that people be “fully vaccinated,” then you must know if that means the one-shot vaccine or both doses of the others, or those shots and then a booster half a year down the road, or boosters every six months for the rest of time. So, are you in compliance? The question calls to mind that famous argument made by none other than Bill Clinton: It depends on what the meaning of is is.
So far, Fauci says the definition isn’t changing. Anyone who has had both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna regimens or the single Johnson & Johnson shot is fully vaccinated. But he added a caveat:
“We’ll continue to follow the data, because right now, when we’re boosting people, what we’re doing is following them. We’re going to see what the durability of that protection is, and as we always do, you just follow and let the data guide your policy and let the data guide your recommendations.”
While Fauci says he hopes the booster won’t wear off as quickly as the first shots apparently do, if the data seem to support it, he’s open to the possibility of requiring regular boosters every six to 12 months and updating the definition of “fully vaccinated.”
An Ever-Moving Goalpost?
So Fauci and the medical community aren’t changing what things mean quite yet. Great. Meanwhile, in the real world, that speculation may soon manifest in actual policy. Connecticut’s Democrat governor, Ned Lamont, said that, as far as he’s concerned, if it’s been more than six months since the last shot, you aren’t fully vaccinated. Lamont explained that the reason he hasn’t issued an executive order yet is that he expects the CDC to release guidance soon that will make the necessity of follow-ups clear.
In New Mexico, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, another Democrat, made the same assertion. Her Health and Human Services secretary, Dr. David Scrase, explained that discussions are already in progress about changing New Mexico’s definition of “fully vaccinated” to include the booster. He expects a new public health order sometime in the next few weeks. That means people working in health care and education may soon be required to get the booster shot – and any that come later – in order to keep their jobs.
How long until other states follow suit? Connecticut could be next to enforce a booster requirement. Several states that already allow adults to get the booster for free, like Arkansas, California, Colorado, and West Virginia, might not be far behind. And then what about businesses that look to state guidance for their own policies? Already, all across America, there are places the unvaccinated simply aren’t allowed to go. How long before the “fully vaccinated” goalpost gets moved – and what if the single booster isn’t enough?
There are memes aplenty floating around the internet poking fun at the “double vaccinated” being shunned by the “triple vaccinated” as if they’re anti-vaxxers. Months ago, that seemed ridiculous. Today, it’s reality – still ridiculous, of course, but reality nonetheless. Got your two shots and think you’re good to go? Think again. Get ready to rush out and get another jab every six months or so, lest you lapse in coverage and lose your precious status. Tired of getting shots? It won’t matter if you’re on shot number 3 or 33, once you balk at getting the next, you’re just another dirty and deranged antivaxxer.
~ Read more from James Fite.