Americans older than 6 months should get an updated COVID-19 booster this fall, according to a recommendation the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued Tuesday.
The vaccine should be available by later this week, the CDC said in a statement.
“We have more tools than ever to prevent the worst outcomes from COVID-19,” said Director Mandy Cohen. “CDC is now recommending updated COVID-19 vaccination for everyone 6 months and older to better protect you and your loved ones.”
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to approve the updated booster shots, followed by a written statement from Cohen. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday approved an updated booster from Moderna and one from Pfizer.
The CDC noted in its announcement that protection from previous COVID-19 vaccines and boosters wanes, and that vaccines lower the likelihood of contracting long COVID.
The CDC’s recommendation didn’t come with any plans to get shots in arms from the Biden administration, which ended the public health emergency for COVID-19 earlier this year.
Uptake of COVID-19 shots has dropped since vaccinations were first approved in the final weeks of 2020 and initially rolled out by the Trump administration.
While more than 270 million people, about 81% of the country, got at least one dose of the original vaccine, that number dropped to just 56 million people, or about 17% of Americans getting the bivalent booster that was approved last year, according to CDC statistics.
The CDC noted in its announcement Tuesday that many Americans can still get the booster doses for free, even though the public health emergency is over.
“For people with health insurance, most plans will cover COVID-19 vaccine at no cost to you. People who don’t have health insurance or with health plans that do not cover the cost can get a free vaccine from their local health centers; state, local, tribal, or territorial health department; and pharmacies participating in the CDC’s Bridge Access Program. Children eligible for the Vaccines for Children program also may receive the vaccine from a provider enrolled in that program.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a written statement that everyone eligible should “get an updated COVID-19 vaccine to protect themselves and their loved ones.”
“Following the Biden-Harris Administration’s launch of the largest adult vaccination program in our nation’s history, COVID-19 vaccines saved millions of lives, kept countless people out of the hospital, and provided peace of mind for the country.”
This story was first published by the Oregon Capital Chronicle.