What does "Fully Vaccinated" Mean in 2023
Updated booster rollouts to target new omicron and delta subvariants of the COVID-19 virus could soon change what it means to be “fully vaccinated.” As of October 2022, the CDC still considers fully vaccinated to mean two weeks after their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer series or two weeks after the single dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
Defining Fully Vaccinated
According to the CDC and Mayo Clinic, individuals are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine Moderna or Pfizer) is administered two weeks after the second dose of the Novavax vaccine and two weeks after the single dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine. The first chart illustrates the vaccine schedule timeline for most non-immunocompromised people, and the second the timeline for immunocompromised people.
New “Up-to-Date” Vaccine Term
On September 30, 2022, the CDC published a new definition regarding what it means to be up-to-date on your covid vaccinations. According to the September report, individuals are “up-to-date” if they have received either two doses of mRNA or one dose of Johnson and Johnson and the most recent recommended booster dose.
The “up-to-date” vaccination term is part of a widespread incitive to reduce the spread of covid as we enter flu season. The goal is to protect more individuals against the highly contagious omicron variants. Recent reports have stated that the up-to-date terminology could change what is classified as “fully vaccinated.” The CDC has outlined guidelines for specific populations that should meet the up-to-date criteria. According to the CDC individuals are considered Up-To-Date if they meet the following guidelines:
- An individual who has completed a primary series and received a booster is up to date.
- An individual who has completed a primary series and is not yet eligible for a booster is up to date.
And Not Up-To-Date if they meet the following criteria:
- An individual who has completed a primary series and is eligible for a booster, but has not received a booster, is not up to date.
Below are the vaccine guidelines by Age Group established by the CDC.
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Vaccine Guidelines by Age Group
|Age Group||Vaccine Guidelines|
|People 6 months to 4 years old||All COVID-19 primary series doses|
|People 5 years and older||All COVID-19 primary series doses and new booster dose|
|People 5 to 11 years old||All COVID-19 primary series doses and original booster dose|
|People ages 12 years and older||All COVID-19 primary series doses and new Pfizer or Moderna booster|
|People ages 12 to 17 years old||All COVID-19 primary series doses and updated Pfizer booster|
Source: Becker's Hosptial Review
Moderately and Severely immunocompromised Guidelines
Individuals classified as immunocompromised (have a weakened immune system) have an increased risk of severe COVID-19 illness. They, therefore, have a different set of guidelines for what is considered up-to-date vaccination status. According to the CDC, people are deemed immunocompromised as a result of the following conditions or treatments:
- Receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or blood cancer
- Received an organ transplant and taking immune-suppressing medications
- Recivieing T-cell therapy or stem cell transplant within the last two years
- Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency
- Advanced or untreated HIV infection
- Current treatment with high-dose corticosteroids and other immune-suppressing drugs
The chart below shows the covid boosters (Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, and Novavax) recommended for immunocompromised children ages six months to 11 years old, pre-teens, teens, and adults after they have received the initial two or one dose series.
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Vaccine Guidelines by Age Group ( Immunocompromised)
|6 months - 4 years of age||5 years -11 years of age||12 -17 years of age||18 years and age|
|Pfizer||3rd dose, 8 weeks after 2nd dose||3rd does, at least 4 weeks after 2nd dose||3rd dose, at least 4 weeks after the second dose; 4th dose (updated booster) at least 2 months after 3rd dose||3rd dose, at least 4 weeks after the second dose; 4th dose ( updated booster) at least 2 months after 3rd|
|Moderna||3rd dose, at least 4 weeks after 2nd dose||3rd does, at least 4 weeks after 2nd dose||3rd dose, at least 4 weeks after the second dose; 4th dose (updated booster) at least 2 months after 3rd||3rd dose, at least 4 weeks after the second dose; 4th dose (updated booster) at least 2 months after 3rd|
|Johnson and Johnson||Not recommended for this age group||Not recommended for this age group||Not recommended for this age group||2nd dose, at least 4 weeks after 1st dose; 3rd dose at least 2 months after 2nd dose *should be Pfizer or Moderna|
|Novavax||Not recommended for this age group||Not recommended for this age group|
Not recommended for this age group
3rd dose, at least 2 months after 2nd dose *should be Pfizer or Moderna
As of October 2022, the definition of what it means to be fully vaccinated remains the same: two standard doses of Moderna, Pfizer, or Novavax (for 18 years and older) or the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine. With the CDC changing the terms of what it means to be up-to-date on vaccines, experts suggest that "fully vaccinated" might evolve to include 3rd doses and updated booster shots. Regarding cost, covid vaccines and boosters are still free to all eligible individuals, regardless of immigration status.
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Originally from Houston, Texas, Alexandra is currently getting her Master's in Public Health with a health policy certificate at Columbia University. One of her life goals is to own her own art gallery!