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CDC advisers recommend updated Covid-19 vaccines

KoldoyChris/Moment RF/Getty Images 12 Sep 23

Originally Published: 12 SEP 23 06:31 ET Updated: 12 SEP 23 15:59 ET By Brenda Goodman, CNN

(CNN) — The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s independent vaccine advisers voted 13-1 on Tuesday to recommend updated Covid-19 vaccines for all Americans 6 months of age and older.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP, is a panel of experts that advises the CDC on its vaccine recommendations.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, director of the CDC, must sign off on the recommendations before the shots can be administered. The committee heard in its meeting Tuesday that the new vaccines will be available in pharmacies within 48 hours of her signoff.

The endorsement from the committee means the vaccines will be covered by public and private insurance plans.

The new vaccines have been updated to fend off the currently circulating viruses that cause Covid-19. They’re arriving amid a late summer uptick in Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths.

The most recent data from the CDC shows that hospitalizations for Covid-19 rose 9% from the week prior. Despite the increase, hospitalizations are still roughly half of what they were during last winter’s peak. Weekly Covid-19 deaths also ticked up in August.

Clinical studies of the vaccines presented by the manufacturers Tuesday showed that all significantly boosted antibodies against currently circulating coronavirus variants, suggesting that they will provide strong protection against the predominant variants.

Two mRNA vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna, were approved and authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration on Monday. A third updated vaccine, made by Novavax, is still under FDA review, so ACIP was unable to make specific recommendations for its use.

However, with the way they worded their vote, the committee agreed to recommend any authorized or approved XBB-containing vaccine, so they won’t need to meet again to consider that vaccine should the FDA clear it, as it is expected to do.

The committee said everyone ages 5 and older should get at least one dose of an updated mRNA vaccine against Covid-19 vaccine this year.

Children 6 months through 4 years of age, who may be getting their vaccines for the first time, should get two doses of a Moderna vaccine and three doses of a Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, with at least one of the doses being an updated 2023 shot.

The committee also made recommendations for people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised. To be up-to-date, those with low immune function should have had at least three doses of Covid-19 vaccine, with at least one of those doses being an updated shot. They also have the option to get an additional updated vaccine later in the year.

The committee has not decided whether seniors 65 and older might need another dose of an updated vaccine in a few months. Seniors became eligible for a second dose of a bivalent Covid-19 vaccine this past spring.

This is the first time Covid-19 vaccines will be made available through the commercial market. The manufacturers revealed the list prices of their vaccines Tuesday, with wholesale prices of $120 to $130 per dose.

Under the terms of the Affordable Care Act, people with commercial insurance plans through the government or an employer have to provide vaccines at no cost. Many people will still pay nothing out-of-pocket for their Covid-19 vaccines.

But an estimated 25 million to 30 million adults don’t have health insurance or don’t have enough insurance. They will be eligible for free Covid-19 vaccines through the government’s Bridge Access Program, which will provide vaccines at health departments and federally qualified health clinics. Bridge Access providers will be added to the website this week, which will help people find locations to get the free vaccines.

Children from low-income families will be able to get free vaccines through the CDC’s Vaccines for Children program.

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