Rule number one: before you make a claim about what the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said, make sure that you actually check the relevant CDC web site first. While speaking on the U.S. House floor on March 17, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) claimed that Anthony Fauci, MD, is “recommending a fourth Covid vaccine shot.” She then went on to say, “Now, I don’t know about you guys, but many of us were vaccinated as kids. – we had our polio, our MMR – and I have never seen the CDC coming out saying, ‘Oh you got to get your second polio shot, you got to get your third, you got to get your fourth.’” She added, “And this may continue to keep going. I think the question we all should ask is, when does it stop, and when are enough vaccines enough,” as you can see in the video accompanying the following tweet:
OK, first of all, Fauci, who is Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), has not yet recommended a fourth Covid-19 vaccine shot for everyone. Currently, CDC guidelines say that “People ages 12 years and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised should receive a total of 4 doses of mRNA Covid-19 vaccine to stay up to date.” At this point, it’s not clear who else should get a second booster or a fourth dose of the Covid-19 mRNA vaccine and when. More studies and data are needed to make that determination. Scientists will have to continue to follow people to see how immunity may wane over time. And unless you have access to the quantum realm or a time machine made out of a DeLorean, that will take time. Eventually, such studies will help the CDC determine how to handle Covid-19 vaccination and boosters in the long run. Naturally, scientists and public health officials will want to strike a balance between having people protected as much as possible and establishing a reasonable and feasible vaccination schedule.
Secondly, if you want to see what the CDC says, there’s this thing called the Internet that has stuff like cat videos and websites. As Seth Trueger MD, MPH, an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, pointed out in a response to the tweet above, the CDC actually recommends four doses of the polio vaccine. You can see that if you or your staffers use a smartphone or a laptop computer.
Here is what the CDC specifically says on its website: “CDC recommends that children get four doses of polio vaccine. They should get one dose at each of the following ages: 2 months old, 4 months old, 6 through 18 months old, and 4 through 6 years old.” Now the CDC website didn’t specifically say that “you got to get your second polio shot, you got to get your third, you got to get your fourth.” That may be because Count von Count from the children’s TV show Sesame Street probably didn’t write the copy for the CDC website. But recommending four doses and the timing of when you should get them as the CDC did is close enough to actually counting up to four.
In fact, polio vaccination isn’t the only vaccination that’s typically administered in multiple doses as you can see in the CDC Child and Adolescent Immunization Schedule. For example, the CDC does recommend that as a kid you get your diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis (DTaP) shot, you get your second DTaP shot, you get your third DTaP shot, you get your fourth DTaP shot, and you get your fifth DTaP shot for a total of five doses. The Pneumococcal conjugate (PCV13) series comes in one, two, three, four, a total of four doses. And of course, you are supposed to get a new vaccination against the flu each year. So over the course of four years, you can get one influenza shot, you can get two influenza shots…well you get the picture. The bottom line, or rather the arm line: it wouldn’t be too unusual for the Covid-19 vaccine to be a multiple shot situation.
If you are still wondering about getting multiple doses of a given vaccine, check your own childhood vaccination records. Assuming that Taylor Greene grew up in the U.S. and not on Mars, she has probably already gotten multiple doses of different vaccines as well.