US COVID updated boosters: The US health agency Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday (September 12) authorised, approved, and recommended everyone six months and older get an updated COVID-19 booster.
Following the decision taken by the CDC as well as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), President Joe Biden called it a historic progress and said that it is an important milestone.
According to an official White House release, Biden said, "Since entering office, my Administration has made historic progress in our ability to manage COVID-19 so that it no longer meaningfully disrupts our lives."
"Today marks another important milestone. Following an independent scientific review, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have now authorized, approved, and recommended everyone 6 months and older get an updated COVID-19 vaccine to protect against serious illness this fall and winter," he added.
Vaccines for 3 seasonal viruses:
The White House release stated that now have vaccines for all three primary seasonal respiratory viruses- COVID-19, flu, and RSV.
"As we enter the autumn and winter seasons, we are in the best possible position, with more tools and systems than ever before, including safe and effective immunisations, widely available at-home testing, and effective treatments," White House release said.
Vaccination against COVID-19 is still the most effective way to avert hospitalisation, long-term health consequences, and death.
"I urge all Americans to keep their immunisations up to date," the US President said. Apparently, new Covid-19 variant EG.5 is on the rise in the US. The variant is causing about 17 per cent of the new Covid-19 cases in the country compared to 16 per cent for the next most common lineage, XBB.1.16, according to the latest estimates from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CNN reported.
The new variant is a spinoff of the XBB recombinant strain of the Omicron family.EG.5, compared to its parent XBB.1.9.2, has one extra mutation to its spike, at position 465. This mutation has appeared in other coronavirus variants before.
Scientists are still not aware what the new mutation enables the virus to do. The 465 mutation is present in about 35 per cent of coronavirus sequences reported worldwide, including another that’s rising in prevalence in the Northeast, FL.1.5.1, suggesting that it is conveying some kind of evolutionary advantage over previous versions, as per CNN.EG.5 now has its own offshoot, EG.5.1, that adds a second mutation to the spike. That one is also spreading rapidly.
Here is what you need to know about new COVID-19 shots | READ
WHO SHOULD GET THE UPDATED VACCINE?
The Food and Drug Administration approved the updated shot s from Pfizer and Moderna for adults and children as young as age 6 months. FDA said starting at age 5, most people can get a single dose even if they’ve never had a prior COVID-19 shot. Younger children might need additional doses depending on their history of COVID-19 infections and vaccinations.
The CDC decides how best to use vaccines and makes recommendations for US doctors and the general public. The agency’s panel of outside experts recommended the updated COVID-19 shots by a vote of 13-1. The no vote came from a panel member who had argued that the new shots should initially be recommended only for older people and others at greatest risk of severe illness. But other panel members said all ages could- and should- benefit.
“We need to make vaccination recommendations as clear as possible,” said one panel member, Dr Camille Kotton, an infectious diseases doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
WHERE CAN I GET A SHOT?
The new vaccine will be available at pharmacies, health centers and some doctor offices. Locations will be listed on the government’s vaccines.gov website. The list price of a dose of each shot is $120 to $130, according to the manufacturers. But federal officials said the new COVID-19 shots still will be free to most Americans through private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. For the uninsured or underinsured, the CDC is working with health departments, clinics and certain pharmacies to temporarily provide free shots.
On Tuesday, a Pfizer official said his company expected to have doses available at some U.S. locations as early as Wednesday.
WHY MORE COVID-19 SHOTS?
Similar to how flu shots are updated each year, the FDA gave COVID-19 vaccine makers a new recipe for this fall. The updated shots have a single target, an omicron descendant named XBB.1.5. It’s a big change. The COVID-19 vaccines offered since last year are combination shots targeting the original coronavirus strain and a much earlier omicron version, making them very outdated.
Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax all have brewed new supplies, and the FDA on Monday approved shots from Pfizer and Moderna. Novavax’s updated vaccine is still under review.
WILL THEY BE EFFECTIVE ENOUGH?
Health officials are optimistic, barring a new mutant. As expected, XBB.1.5 has faded away in the months it took to tweak the vaccine. Today, there is a soup of different coronavirus variants causing illness and the most common ones are fairly close relatives. Recent lab testing from vaccine makers and other research groups suggests the updated shots will offer crossover protection.
Earlier vaccinations or infections have continued to help prevent severe disease and death but protection wanes over time, especially against milder infections as the virus continually evolves. The FDA did allow seniors and others at high risk to get an extra booster dose last spring. But most Americans haven’t had a vaccination in about a year.
CAN I GET A FLU SHOT AND COVID-19 SHOT AT THE SAME TIME?
Yes. The CDC says there is no difference in effectiveness or side effects if people get those vaccines simultaneously, although one in each arm might be more comfortable. The CDC urges a yearly flu shot for pretty much everyone ages 6 months and up. The best time is by the end of October.
(With agencies inputs)