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Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday that it is not a matter of “when, not if” Americans will be required to have three shots in order to be considered by definition to be “fully vaccinated.”

“It’s a technical, almost semantic definition and it is a definition for requirements if someone says ‘Are you fully vaccinated to be able to attend class at a university or be able to work in a workplace?’” America’s top infectious disease expert said on CNN. 

“Right now, I don’t see that changing tomorrow or next week, but certainly if you want to talk about optimal protection, I don’t think anybody would argue that optimal protection is going to be with a third shot,” Fauci said.

“Whether or not it officially gets changed in the definition I think that’s going to be considered literally on a daily basis.”

“My own personal opinion is …  It’s going to be a matter of when, not if,” he added.

Fauci said he is working with pharmaceutical companies to develop variant-specific vaccination in the future.AP / Matt Rourke

Fauci’s comments came the same day that Pfizer and BioNTech released the results of a laboratory study that showed a booster shot will “neutralize the Omicron variant,” which Fauci called “very encouraging news.”

“When you get that third shot boost it dramatically increases the level of laboratory projected protections,” he said. The pharmaceutical company’s study found that two doses also significantly helped protect against the virus.

“Although two doses of the vaccine may still offer protection against severe disease caused by the Omicron strain, it’s clear from these preliminary data that protection is improved with a third dose of our vaccine,” said Albert Bourla, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Pfizer in a statement on Wednesday. “Ensuring as many people as possible are fully vaccinated with the first two dose series and a booster remains the best course of action to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

The current vaccinations were developed “against the original ancestral Wuhan strain” of the coronavirus, Fauci said, and not against these current mutations such as delta and omicron. However they still offer the best protection against the virus.

Pfizer and BioNTech released the results of a laboratory study that showed a booster shot will “neutralize the Omicron variant.”AP / Giannis Papanikos

He said he is working with pharmaceutical companies to develop variant-specific vaccination in the future.

“As a public health person, I just say get the third shot,” he said. “I say forget about what the definition is. I just want to see people be optimally protected, that’s what I’m concerned about and for me that’s unequivocally and unquestionably getting a third shot boost.”



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