COVID-19 Updates: ‘Fully Vaccinated’ Definition, Booster Recommendation Expansion, Status of Vaccine Mandates, and New Isolation and Quarantine Guidance

Jan. 7, 2022 - Below is a summary of important-to-know COVID-19-related updates released during the 2021 holiday break.

CDC Not Changing ‘Fully Vaccinated’ Definition

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shared that the agency has no plans to change the definition of being “fully vaccinated” against COVID-19 as completion of the primary series of vaccines. In reference to boosters, the CDC urges “up-to-date” shots.

COVID-19 Booster Recommendation Expanded to 12- through 17-Year-Olds

The CDC endorsed its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) recommendation to expand eligibility of COVID-19 booster doses to 12- through 15-year-olds. CDC now recommends that adolescents age 12 through 17 years receive a booster 5 months after their primary Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination series. The booster interval recommendation for those who received the J&J vaccine (2 months) or Moderna vaccine (6 months), has not changed. At this time, J&J and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are only authorized and recommended for use in people 18 years and older.

CMS Guidance on Healthcare Facility Staff COVID-19 Vaccination Mandate

According to a CMS interim final rule released Dec. 28, staff in Medicare- and Medicaid-certified facilities in Michigan and 24 other states not currently blocked from the rule, are expected to have received at least one dose of COVID-19 by Jan. 27 and completed the vaccination series by Feb. 28, unless exempted as required by law or delayed as recommended by CDC.

Federal, state, accreditation organization, and CMS-contracted surveyors will begin surveying for compliance 30 days after publication of the guidance. CMS’ primary goal is to bring health care facilities into compliance; therefore, termination would generally occur only after providing a facility with an opportunity to make corrections and come into compliance. Read more.

New CDC Isolation and Quarantine Guidance Not Applicable to Healthcare Staff

Among the CDC’s new COVID-19 recommendations for general public is that people who’ve tested positive and are asymptomatic, regardless of vaccination status, should isolate for five days and then wear a mask around others for an additional five days. The American Medical Association has come out publicly to comment on the new recommendations, saying they are confusing and counterproductive. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has updated its quarantine guidance for the general public to reflect the CDC’s new recommendations.

These recommendations do not apply to healthcare staff. Instead, per new guidance the CDC issued on Dec. 23, asymptomatic healthcare workers who have had a higher-risk exposure do not require work restriction if they have received all COVID-19 vaccine doses, including a booster dose, as recommended by the CDC and do not develop symptoms or test positive. Healthcare workers with COVID-19 who are asymptomatic can return to work after 7 days with a negative test, and that isolation can be cut further if there are staffing shortages,