A vial of the Moderna coronavirus booster vaccine targeting the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants is pictured at the Skippack pharmacy in Schwenksville, Pennsylvania, September 8, 2022.
Hannah Beier | Reuters
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Tuesday that all Americans aged six months and older receive updated Covid shots from Pfizer And Modernpaving the way for Americans to begin receiving vaccines within days.
CDC Director Mandy Cohen on Tuesday approved a recommendation made by an independent group of advisers to the agency. That means the first doses of the new shots will be available in some locations within the next 48 hours, according to the CDC.
“We have more tools than ever to prevent the worst consequences of COVID-19,” Cohen said in a statement. “The CDC now recommends an updated COVID-19 vaccination for everyone 6 months and older to better protect you and your loved ones.”
Thirteen CDC advisers voted in favor of the “universal” recommendation for Americans at the panel’s meeting Tuesday, while one voted against.
“I think it’s clear that vaccination is going to prevent serious illness and death in all age groups. This is a vaccine-preventable disease,” said Dr. Beth Bell, professor of clinic at the University of Washington and member of the expert panel. the consultative meeting. “And so, for that reason, I am in favor of the universal recommendation.”
Dr. Pablo Sanchez, professor of pediatrics at Ohio State University, voted against the recommendation due to “limited data” on children, infants and other populations, while noting that it is “not against this vaccine.
The advisory committee’s recommendation comes a day after the Food and Drug Administration approved the two mRNA shots, designed to target the omicron XBB.1.5 subvariant. An updated photo of Novavaxwhich uses protein-based technology, is still under review by the agency.
The FDA has approved new vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna for people 12 and older. The agency authorized emergency injections for children 6 months to 11 years old.
The new vaccines are part of an initiative by public health officials to update Covid vaccines each year to target newer strains of the virus – a similar approach to the annual flu vaccine. The vaccine rollout comes as the virus begins to gain further foothold in the United States.
Hospitalizations have increased for seven straight weeks and rose more than 15% to 17,418 for the week ending Aug. 26, according to the latest CDC data. That number remains lower than the surge the country saw in the summer of 2022, when hospitalizations soared to more than 40,000.
But the CDC “expects further increases” as the United States enters respiratory virus season this fall and winter, a time when Covid, respiratory syncytial virus and influenza tend to spread to higher levels, CDC epidemiologist Dr. Megan Wallace said during Tuesday’s meeting.
A resident receives a Covid-19 booster shot at a vaccination clinic at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, United States, Tuesday, April 5, 2022.
Hannah Beier | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The updated vaccines should help prevent people from becoming seriously ill and being hospitalized due to Covid infections caused by new variants.
Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax have all released early trial data suggesting their new shots produce robust immune responses against the now-dominant EG.5, or “Eris,” variant. This omicron strain is closely related to XBB.1.5 and accounted for 21.5% of all cases in the United States as of September 2, according to the CDC.
Pfizer and Moderna also released the first trial data showing their new shots were effective against another omicron variant called BA.2.86. Novavax said Monday it was still testing its vaccine against BA.2.86. This strain has been detected in small numbers in the United States, but health authorities around the world are monitoring it closely due to its high number of mutations.
Moderna’s Priddy, executive director of clinical development for the Covid vaccine program at Moderna, during Tuesday’s consultative meeting.
The upcoming arrival of the new vaccines comes months after the end of the American public health emergency linked to Covid.
The end of this declaration means that manufacturers will sell their updated vaccines directly to health care providers at more than $120 per dose in the private market. Previously, the government purchased vaccines directly from manufacturers at a discount to distribute them free to all Americans.
During the consultative meeting, Moderna said the list price of its vaccine was $129 per dose and Pfizer said the list price of its own shot was $120 per dose. Meanwhile, Novavax said its list price is $130 per dose.
The vast majority of Americans will be able to get the new vaccines for free through private insurance or government payers like Medicare.
For the uninsured or underinsured, the Biden administration plans to offer vaccines for free through its temporary “Bridge Access Program” at health centers, clinics and eventually pharmacies across the United States. Free vaccines through the program will not be available after December 2024, according to the CDC website.
The CDC’s Vaccines For Children program will provide free Covid vaccines to children whose families or guardians cannot afford them once the vaccines are released to the commercial market.