Psaki: 'Fully vaccinated' doesn't mean you're 'up-to-date' on vaccinations

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki holds briefing

White House press secretary Jen Psaki appeared at a Wednesday press conference where she touched on the reported retirement of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, President Joe Biden’s ongoing negotiations with China, and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Asked by a reporter if the administration has any regrets about the unclear distinction between the terms “fully-vaccinated” and “up-to-date on vaccinations,” Psaki deflected blame for the confusion away from the White House.

“It was not a decision made by the White House – it was a decision made by our public health experts at the CDC who make those definitions, or determine those definitions,” Psaki told reporters.

A woman gets tested at a mobile COVID-19 testing van on 14th Street in Manhattan on Jan. 4, 2022.
(Liao Pan/China News Service via Getty Images)

“They’ve also said that the term ‘fully vaccinated’ refers to your primary series,” Psaki continued, referencing the vaccines against COVID-19 that were developed by Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and other pharmaceutical companies. “So that means, being up-to-date on your vaccines.”

Psaki compared the booster vaccines to children’s booster shots, explaining that Americans need to stay aware of whatever future vaccination guidance will be given moving forward.

“It is also true that we think more people need to get boosters,” Psaki continued, “that boosters are very effective in protecting against serious illness, hospitalization.”

Co-hosts Dana Perino and Bill Hemmer pressed Psaki Thursday during a wide-ranging interview on “America’s Newsroom,” where she was asked about the possibility of loosening COVID restrictions and how President Biden plans to tackle surging crime in American cities.

Perino, noting Boris Johnson’s announcement that the U.K. would be rolling back mask mandates and vaccine passports by March, asked Psaki whether the White House would soon follow suit and roll back restrictions themselves. 

“Will the president provide America an off-ramp to COVID and especially for those, the unvaccinated?” asked Perino, clarifying that, although she agrees with vaccination, some Americans feel they have become “scapegoats and second-class citizens.”

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