Is the CDC Using Manipulation in New Language for Boosters?

Jonathan Weiss /
Jonathan Weiss /

It may be semantics, but it seems more like manipulation. The federal government is trying to sway people towards receiving the COVID-19 booster shot, and some medical experts see it as manipulation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now advising people to keep their COVID-19 vaccination “up to date.” This is a change in the language from the CDC, they previously were asking that people be “fully vaccinated” with either the two shots of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna’s vaccines or one shot of the vaccine from Johnson & Johnson’s.

But now the standard of being “up-to-date” includes one or more booster shots along with the initial vaccine regimen.

The New York Times reported, “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday said it was not changing its definition of ‘full vaccination’ against the coronavirus. But the agency changed its emphasis on the appropriate regimen.”

The Times said that the CDC is tweaking how they refer to the shots. It will now be considered “up-to-date” if a person has three doses of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna’s vaccines.

And if a person has had the Johnson & Johnson one shot regimen, they should receive a second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech to also be considered up to date.

So this new information from the CDC is basically calling for all Americans to change how they talk about vaccine schedules. And they also want the normal talk to include the fact that 12-year-olds are now eligible for boosters.

Dr. Marty Makary of Johns Hopkins University tweeted this message, “Well CDC just did it, as I predicted. They changed their language from ‘Get a booster’ to ‘Are you up to date?’ This manipulation of words implies that low-risk people without a booster are out-of-date. Also sets the stage for [frequent] boosters. Covid vaccinations are not software.”

This sentiment was echoed by Dr. Nicole Saphier who is the director of breast imaging at Memorial Sloan Kettering in Monmouth, New Jersey. She believes that the change in wording from the CDC from “fully vaccinated” to “up to date” is a manipulation of words aimed at influencing behavior. And she stated that immunity and protection are not binary. Saphier said that there would be consequences for heedless measures that use selective data and that it was “upsetting” to watch.

In December, Dr. Makary was quoted as saying that he thought the CDC would shift their language from “fully vaccinated” to stay “up to date” on shots. He was way ahead of seeing them change their definitions. He said that it probably makes sense to get the booster if you are a senior person over 65 and you have not had COVID in the past. But there is no evidence to support getting the booster for younger people.

Makary was willing to say that he feared that it was the pharmaceutical companies who may be calling the shots right now and not the CDC. He wonders whether these companies have convinced the CDC to make this massive recommendation for every 16 and 17-year-old to get boosted. He said that there was nothing more insane and anti-science than making a young, low-risk, healthy student who already had COVID get a booster shot. And he believes there will be harm from indiscriminate booster recommendations. And that is exactly what the CDC is offering as guidance. They recommend booster shots at 5 months after the completion of the primary series Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for those aged 12 and older.

It is good to see that some experts are willing to question the recent guidance from the CDC.