The advisers associated with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recommended updated Covid-19 vaccines for all Americans aged 6 months and older.
The Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices (ACIP) made this recommendation in a 13-1 vote.
The Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices, often referred to as ACIP, serves as a vital council of experts whose primary responsibility is to provide guidance and counsel to the Centers for the CDC concerning vaccine recommendations.
For these recommendations to be translated into action, official approval from Dr Mandy Cohen, the Director of the CDC is required before the vaccines can be administered to the public.
During their recent meeting on Tuesday, the committee received news that once Dr Cohen gives her go-ahead, the new vaccines would become readily accessible at pharmacies within a mere 48-hour window.
The endorsement by the committee ensures that these vaccines will be covered by public and private insurance plans.
The updated vaccines target the currently circulating Covid-19 variants. The CDC reports a 9% increase in Covid-19 hospitalisations compared to the previous week, though they remain lower than last winter’s peak. Weekly Covid-19 deaths also saw an uptick in August. Clinical studies presented by vaccine manufacturers showed that the updated mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) effectively boost antibodies against current variants.
The committee recommends all individuals aged 5 and older receive at least one dose of an updated mRNA Covid-19 vaccine this year. Children aged 6 months to 4 years getting their vaccines for the first time should get two doses of Moderna or three doses of Pfizer, with one being an updated 2023 shot. Immunocompromised individuals should have at least three doses, with one being updated, and have the option for an additional updated vaccine later.
The committee has not yet determined if seniors aged 65 and older will require another dose of the updated vaccine in the future. This marks the first time Covid-19 vaccines will be available commercially, with list prices ranging from $120 to $130 per dose.
Most individuals with insurance will receive vaccines at no cost, while uninsured individuals can access free vaccines through the government’s Bridge Access Programme. Low-income children can receive free vaccines through the CDC’s Vaccines for Children programme.