Older and immunocompromised Americans who want an additional updated COVID-19 booster shot this spring got the final go-ahead Wednesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The federal agency said in a news release it has agreed “to simplify COVID-19 vaccine recommendations and allow more flexibility for people at higher risk who want the option of added protection from additional COVID-19 vaccine doses.”
The decision comes a day after the Food and Drug Administration authorized additional doses for those 65 and older at least four months after their first updated booster shot, and after two months for immunocompromised individuals as young as 6 months old.
The FDA also announced that the updated booster shots, known as bivalent because they target recent versions of the omicron variant as well as the original strain of the virus, will replace all doses administered to those 6 months and older.
The changes are part of an effort by the Biden administration to make it easier for Americans to stay-up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccinations. The vaccine is expected to be updated again for a new round of booster shots for all in the fall.
Fewer than 17% of Americans have gotten the updated booster shots first made available last fall. Federal authorities intend for COVID-19 vaccination to become an annual routine for most Americans, like a flu shot.
The CDC’s recommendations, made after a discussion but not a vote by an advisory committee, include:
- Allowing an additional updated vaccine dose for adults ages 65 years and older and additional doses for people who are immunocompromised as needed.
- Declaring the original COVID-19 vaccines utilizing the new mRNA technology from Pfizer and Moderna will no longer be recommended for use in the United States.
- Recommending everyone 6 and older receive an updated mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of whether they previously completed their primary series with the original vaccine.
- Noting that individuals ages 6 years and older who have already received an updated mRNA vaccine do not need to take any action unless they are 65 years or older or immunocompromised.
- Continuing to recommend multiple doses for young children that will vary by age, vaccine, and which vaccines were previously received.
- Reminding that alternatives to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines remain available for people who cannot or will not receive an mRNA vaccine and that CDC recommendations for use of Novavax or Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines are not affected by the changes made today.