Health chiefs today recommended the new variant-busting Covid booster shot to virtually every American.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging every adult and child over six months of age to take the new vaccine, which targets newer versions of the Omicron variant.
The agency’s independent panel of experts voted 13-1 on Tuesday to recommend the vaccinations. The agency’s director, Dr. Mandy Cohen, said the updated vaccinations will “better protect you and your loved ones.”
Health officials hope to boost immunity levels nationwide before winter as Covid rates rise nationwide for the first time this year – although top experts expect another mild wave.
The new vaccinations — designed to increase protection against newer variants — like previous shots, are considered safe for every American over the age of six months
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) today recommended the vaccinations to virtually every American.
The CDC director has yet to sign the recommendation, but if she does, the vaccines will be available at pharmacies within 48 hours.
Today’s recommendation means that the costs of the vaccinations will be covered by statutory and private health insurance companies.
The recommendation comes a day after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said yesterday that the shots were safe for everyone six months of age and older.
Announcing the recommendation of the expert committee, Dr. Mandy Cohen: “We have more tools than ever before to prevent the worst consequences of Covid.”
“CDC now recommends updated Covid vaccination for everyone ages six months and older to better protect you and your loved ones.”
The latest shots – made by Pfizer and Moderna – target an Omicron variant called XBB.1.5, which was dominant in the US during the summer months but has now largely declined.
Still, it is so close to the coronavirus strains that cause most Covid illnesses today that the FDA determined yesterday that it would provide good cross-protection.
Initial tests show it also effectively protects against BA.2.86, which has sparked fears of a new Covid wave.
There are also promising signs that it will work against the EG.5 Covid variant that is currently dominant in the US.
Of the 14 ACIP experts, only one agreed – Dr. Pablo Sanchez, a pediatrician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio – opposed the move.
He said CNN: “I just want to make it clear that I am not against this vaccine.” The limited data that is available looks great.
‘[But] “We have extremely limited data on children … and I think that needs to be made available to parents.”
But other experts said this would unnecessarily restrict access to the updated Covid vaccine.
Dr. Sandra Fryhofer, who represented the American Medical Association at the meeting, said: “There is no group that is clearly not at risk from Covid.”
“And even children and adults without previous illnesses can suffer serious illnesses due to Covid.”
The graph above shows the Covid hospitalization rate from January 2022 to September 22nd. Hospitalizations have now increased for eight consecutive weeks, although they are rising again from historic lows
The graph above shows Covid deaths in 2022 and 2023. These have also started to rise in recent weeks
America is an outlier internationally in recommending Covid booster shots for younger age groups, while other countries have so far only offered them to older adults.
But Dr. Grace Lee, a pediatrician who leads ACIP, said today’s recommendation is necessary because of disparities in the U.S. health care system.
Other experts have also previously pointed out that due to the lack of a public health system, the committees have little choice but to make blanket recommendations.
The UK has already started rolling out the updated Covid booster this year, but this is the case Offer only for adults aged 65 and over – They say they are the group most at risk of serious illness.
Last year, the CDC also recommended the bivalent Covid booster vaccination for everyone six months and older.
However, other countries have only released it to older age groups, with the UK giving the green light to those aged 50 and over and Italy to those aged 60 and over.
But there are signs health officials will struggle to get Americans to sign up for the new Covid booster shot this year after acceptance fell last year.
Overall, only 17 percent of eligible Americans have voted in favor of the bivalent vaccine, which protects against versions of Omicron.
Among those over 65 – who are most at risk of serious illness – almost six in 10 people did not come forward to get vaccinated.
Some experts are already calling for Dr. Paul Offit only urges older Americans to come forward to receive the updated Covid booster shotwho sits on the FDA’s vaccine advisory panel, told DailyMail.com last week that adults under 75 are healthy don’t need to get the shot.
This comes as Covid indicators continue to rise in the US amid the emergence of new, more transmissible variants.
The number of Covid hospitalizations rose by almost nine percent in a week, reaching 18,871 admissions in the seven days to September 2nd.
The number of deaths linked to the virus is also increasing, rising seven percent to 722 deaths in the week ending August 19, although that number could rise.