The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that all Americans aged 6 months and older receive updated COVID-19 shots from Pfizer and Moderna to better protect against the virus as new variants emerge. This comes after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the two mRNA vaccines designed to target the omicron subvariant XBB.1.5.
Key points of the recommendation:
Universal Vaccination: The CDC recommends updated COVID-19 vaccination for everyone aged 6 months and older. Thirteen CDC advisors voted in favor of this “universal” recommendation, with one member voting against it.
Emergency Use Authorization: The FDA approved Pfizer and Moderna’s new vaccines for individuals aged 12 and older while authorizing them for emergency use in children aged 6 months through 11 years old.
Annual Vaccine Updates: Public health officials are adopting a strategy similar to the yearly flu shot, aiming to update COVID-19 vaccines annually to address newer strains of the virus.
Omicron Variants: The new vaccines are designed to target recent omicron variants, including XBB.1.5 and BA.2.86. Initial trial data from Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax suggest robust immune responses against these variants.
Increasing Hospitalizations: Hospitalizations related to COVID-19 have been on the rise for seven consecutive weeks, prompting concerns as the U.S. enters the fall and winter respiratory virus season. The updated vaccines aim to prevent severe illness and hospitalizations caused by newer variants.
Cost and Access: While the list price for the new vaccines is approximately $120-130 per dose, most Americans can access them at no cost through private insurance or government payers like Medicare. A temporary “Bridge Access Program” will provide free shots for the uninsured or underinsured, but this program is set to end in December 2024.