Anthony Fauci Says Only 30 Percent of Americans Might be Classed as Fully Vaccinated

Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, has said that in the future it's possible that only those who have had a booster shot of a COVID-19 vaccine could be considered by the government as "fully vaccinated," which is currently only 30 percent of all Americans.

Fauci made the comments on MSNBC on Tuesday night. Asked by the reporter whether the definition of "fully vaccinated" would change to include not just one shot of a single-dose vaccine or two shots of a two-dose vaccine, but a booster dose as well, Fauci said: "You know it very well might, it's almost a semantics situation. I want people to understand, when I and my colleagues say 'optimal protection,' particularly against Omicron, [it] is to get your primary vaccinations, plus a boost.

"The semantics of what you're calling 'fully vaccinated' or not—for regulatory or requirement purposes—doesn't avoid the fact that if you want to really be optimally protected, go get a boost."

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as of Tuesday, only 30.4 percent of the fully vaccinated U.S. population have had a booster—or 62.2 million people. Across age groups, that represents 33.1 percent of people aged 18 or over, 44.9 percent of those 50 or over and 55.4 percent of those aged 65 or over. 62 percent of the population are currently classed as fully vaccinated.

In late November, federal regulators authorized Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine boosters for all adults. Sixteen and 17-year-olds can also get them.

Fauci and other Biden administration officials are urging Americans to get their booster shot as Omicron, the highly-contagious new COVID-19 variant, spreads around the United States.

Federal health officials said on Monday that Omicron is now the dominant strain in the U.S., accounting for 73 percent of the new infections over the last week. Previously, the highly contagious Delta variant had been dominant for months in the U.S, and at the end of November, Delta accounted for more than 99.5 percent of virus infections, according to CDC data.

The early data into the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccine boosters in offering protection against Omicron is encouraging, and suggests it is the best protection against the new variant.

Moderna announced on Monday that its booster showed a significant increase in antibody levels against Omicron in preliminary lab trials. Pfizer and BioNTech earlier this month achieved similar results, but did not release any data.

One pre-print study found that the Omicron variant might be resistant to antibodies found in those who have had the vaccine, but not the booster yet.

Americans are eligible for boosters six months after their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or two months after Johnson & Johnson's one-shot vaccine.

Dr Anthony Fauci in DC
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical adviser to the president, speaks with guests after President Joe Biden delivered remarks to commemorate World AIDS Day at the White House on December 1, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Anna Moneymaker