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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Businesses, employers and universities are taking the data into their own hands and requiring booster coronavirus shots.

Why it matters: Three shots work better than two at preventing infection, especially against the Omicron variant. But competing definitions of "fully vaccinated" based on where you live or work will inevitably confuse people.

Driving the news: Booster requirements are steadily rolling out across the country, even though the federal definition of "fully vaccinated" hasn't yet changed from two shots of Moderna or Pfizer and one of J&J.

The intrigue: Americans are split on what they think the definition of fully vaccinated is, according to Harris polling provided exclusively to Axios.

  • 49% of adults said that "fully vaccinated" means two shots of Pfizer or Moderna or one shot of J&J, and 51% said that "fully vaccinated" now includes a booster.
  • Nearly two-thirds of seniors feel that a booster is required to be fully vaccinated.

Between the lines: Even before the Omicron variant emerged, data had clearly shown that the protection offered by two doses of Pfizer and Moderna's vaccines against infection waned over time, although it remained very high against severe disease.

  • A third shot given several months later raised protection against infection to levels even higher than they were right after the second shot.
  • Data also showed that a booster shot offered much stronger protection against infection than one shot of J&J's vaccine.
  • Now, preliminary data suggests that two shots of mRNA vaccines and one shot of J&J aren't very effective at all against Omicron infection, but booster shots are.

What they're saying: When asked by a reporter yesterday about changing the official definition of fully vaccinated, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky didn't give any hints about when that may happen.

  • "We are continuing to follow that science and it is literally evolving daily.  And as that science evolves, we will continue to review the data and update our recommendations as necessary," she said.

Go deeper

Updated 16 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron — WHO recommends 2 new treatments — What "mild" really means when it comes to Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas— Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements— Supreme Court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for large employers.
  3. Politics: Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health" — Focus group says Biden weak on COVID response, strong on democracy.
  4. Economy: America's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic— — CDC COVID guidance for cruise ships to be optional starting Saturday — The cost of testing.
  5. States: America struggles to keep schools open — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers.
  6. World: Beijing reports first local Omicron case weeks before Winter Olympics — Teachers in France stage mass walkout over COVID protocols.
  7. Variant tracker
Updated Jan 14, 2022 - Axios Twin Cities

Questions about Twin Cities indoor dining vaccine mandates, answered

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Vaccine-or-test mandates for indoor dining go into effect in Minneapolis and St. Paul on Wednesday, Jan. 19. Here are answers to some common questions on the orders:

Q: Are all restaurants covered by the requirement?

A: No, St. Paul's order only covers establishments licensed by the city. That means coffee shops, fast food chains and other places that do not serve alcohol are exempt, according to the Pioneer Press.

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm was lashing much of the East Coast on Sunday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: Extremely high wind gusts over 60 miles per hour were recorded in parts of the East cost Monday morning, and more than 129,200 customers from New York to Georgia were still without power, according to estimates from PowerOutage.us.