Emails reveal the truth behind why the CDC changed definitions of vaccine and vaccinated. But a CDC spokesperson insists that the “slight changes in wording” have not changed “the overall definition” of “vaccine.”
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) modified the definitions of “vaccine” and “vaccinated” as a result of criticism that the COVID-19 vaccinations did not seem to fit the requirements, according to recently discovered emails.
Alycia Downs, a CDC official, stated in an email to a colleague on August 25, 2021, “the definition of vaccine we have posted is problematic and people are using it to claim the COVID-19 vaccine is not a vaccine based on our own definition.”
The definition can be found on the page Immunization Basics.
According to archived copies of the page, the CDC has been defining “vaccine” as a substance that induces immunity since at least 2011, whereas “vaccination” was described as an injection that prevents a disease. The emails reveal that the COVID-19 vaccines have become less and less successful at preventing infection with the virus that causes COVID-19, which is what led to the flurry of questions about the definitions.
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“Our question is how is the CDC and the rest of the world allowed to call the shot a vaccination when it doesn’t even meet your own definition,” one person wrote to the CDC.
“Right-wing covid-19 pandemic deniers are using your ‘vaccine’ definition to argue that mRNA vaccines are not vaccines,” another said.
The messenger RNA technology serves as the foundation for both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. They make up two of the three COVID-19 vaccines that are offered in the US.
According to the emails, Downs collaborated with colleagues Allison Michelle Fisher, Cynthia Jorgensen, Valerie Morelli, and Andrew (no last name given) to modify the definitions of “vaccine” and “vaccination.”
On August 31 and September 1, 2021, the modifications were implemented.
The term “vaccine” is currently described as “a preparation that is used to stimulate the body’s immune response against diseases. Vaccines are usually administered through needle injections, but some can be administered by mouth or sprayed into the nose.”
The old definition read, “a product that stimulates a person’s immune system to produce immunity to a specific disease, protecting the person from that disease. Vaccines are usually administered through needle injections, but can also be administered by mouth or sprayed into the nose.”
The definition of “vaccination,” which was formerly “the act of introducing a vaccine into the body to produce immunity to a specific disease,” has been altered to “the act of introducing a vaccine into the body to produce protection from a specific disease.”
In 2021, lawyer Travis Miller acquired some of the letters and released screenshots of them. The CDC did not question their veracity at the time. All 67 pages (read below) of the emails and other messages related to the revisions have been made public.
The collection of emails, which were received in response to a FOIA request, also reveals that Andrew, a CDC official serving on the organization’s Vaccine Task Force, supported a Washington Post piece that minimized criticism of the modification.
“I’ve only seen a couple of inquiries about the change to this page. I think the WaPo article explains the problem well—that people are misinterpreting ‘immunity’ to mean 100% protection,” Andrew wrote.
“Thank you, Andrew! I really appreciate your response,” Downs replied.
The “slight changes in wording” have not changed “the overall definition” of “vaccine,” according to a CDC spokesperson who also stated that “the previous definition at Immunization Basics | CDC could be interpreted to mean that vaccines were 100% effective, which has never been the case for any vaccine, so the current definition is more transparent, and also describes the ways in which vaccines can be administered.”
Other parts of the CDC website still claim that the COVID-19 vaccine provides immunity. For example, one page claims that “getting a COVID-19 vaccination is a safer and more dependable way to build immunity to COVID-19 than getting sick with COVID-19.”
Read the emails below: