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Updated COVID-19 Vaccine Now Available for All Americans

by Gabriel Martinez
4 comments
FDA-approved updated COVID-19 vaccines

Health authorities have issued a compelling recommendation: most Americans, irrespective of age, should seek an updated COVID-19 vaccine. This advisory was sanctioned on Tuesday by advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with the agency’s director promptly endorsing their counsel. Consequently, these updated vaccine doses are expected to be accessible this week, with some becoming available as early as Wednesday.

While the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic has waned, the United States still reports thousands of hospitalizations and hundreds of fatalities each week. Hospitalization rates have been on the rise since late summer, although recent data indicates a potential leveling off of infections, particularly in the Southern states.

Nonetheless, concerns persist regarding the fading immunity from previous vaccinations and infections in many individuals. A new vaccine dose holds the potential to save countless lives.

A recent CDC-cited survey from last month revealed that approximately 42% of respondents stated they would definitely or probably opt for the new vaccine. However, when a similar updated booster was offered a year ago, only about 20% of adults availed themselves of it.

Medical professionals are hopeful that a sufficient number of individuals will choose to get vaccinated to prevent a recurrence of last year’s “tripledemic.” This refers to a situation where hospitals were inundated with an early flu season, an influx of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cases, and yet another surge of the coronavirus during the winter months.

Here are the key details concerning the new COVID-19 vaccine doses:

WHO SHOULD RECEIVE THE UPDATED VACCINE?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given its approval for updated vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna for both adults and children as young as 6 months old. From the age of 5, most individuals can receive a single dose, even if they have not had a previous COVID-19 shot. Younger children may require additional doses depending on their history of COVID-19 infections and vaccinations.

“We need to make vaccination recommendations as clear as possible,” emphasized Dr. Camille Kotton, an infectious diseases specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital, during the panel’s discussions.

WHERE CAN I GET VACCINATED?

These new vaccine doses will be accessible at pharmacies, health centers, and select doctor’s offices. Locations will be listed on the government’s vaccines.gov website. While the list price for a single dose of each shot is $120 to $130, federal authorities have assured that these new COVID-19 vaccines will remain free for the majority of Americans through private insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid. For those without insurance or with limited coverage, the CDC is collaborating with health departments, clinics, and specific pharmacies to offer temporary free vaccinations.

A Pfizer representative has stated that doses are expected to be available at certain U.S. locations as early as Wednesday.

WHY THE NEED FOR MORE COVID-19 VACCINE DOSES?

Analogous to annual flu vaccine updates, the FDA provided COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers with a new formula for this fall. The updated shots now target a single variant known as XBB.1.5, a descendant of the omicron strain. This is a substantial change compared to the vaccines administered since last year, which were combination shots targeting the original coronavirus strain and an earlier omicron variant, rendering them outdated.

Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax have all produced new vaccine supplies, with Pfizer and Moderna’s updated vaccines receiving FDA approval on Monday. Novavax’s updated vaccine is still under evaluation.

WILL THESE VACCINES BE EFFECTIVE ENOUGH?

Health officials express optimism, barring the emergence of a new variant. As anticipated, the XBB.1.5 variant has diminished over the months it took to modify the vaccine. Currently, various coronavirus variants are causing illnesses, with the most prevalent ones closely related. Recent laboratory tests conducted by vaccine manufacturers and research groups suggest that the updated shots will provide cross-protection.

While earlier vaccinations or infections continue to guard against severe illness and death, protection gradually wanes, especially against milder infections as the virus evolves. Last spring, the FDA did authorize an extra booster dose for seniors and other high-risk groups, but the majority of Americans have not received a vaccination in approximately a year.

CAN I RECEIVE A FLU SHOT AND COVID-19 VACCINE SIMULTANEOUSLY?

Yes, you can. According to the CDC, there is no discernible difference in effectiveness or side effects when both vaccines are administered concurrently, although receiving them in separate arms may be more comfortable. The CDC strongly advocates an annual flu shot for almost everyone aged 6 months and older, with the optimal timing being by the end of October.


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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about COVID-19 Vaccine Update

Q: Who is recommended to receive the updated COVID-19 vaccine?

A: The updated COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for most Americans, including adults and children as young as 6 months old. Starting from the age of 5, most individuals can receive a single dose, even if they haven’t had a previous COVID-19 shot. Younger children may require additional doses depending on their COVID-19 infection and vaccination history.

Q: Where can I get the updated COVID-19 vaccine?

A: The new vaccine doses are available at various locations, including pharmacies, health centers, and select doctor’s offices. You can find vaccination locations listed on the government’s vaccines.gov website. While the list price for a single dose of each shot is $120 to $130, the vaccines remain free for the majority of Americans through private insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid. For those without insurance or with limited coverage, the CDC is working with health departments, clinics, and specific pharmacies to offer temporary free vaccinations.

Q: Why are more COVID-19 vaccine doses needed?

A: Similar to the annual updates for flu vaccines, the FDA provided COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers with a new formula for this fall. The updated shots target a single variant called XBB.1.5, a descendant of the omicron strain. This is a significant change from the previous vaccines, which targeted the original coronavirus strain and an earlier omicron variant. These updates are necessary to ensure that the vaccines remain effective against evolving virus variants.

Q: Will the updated COVID-19 vaccines be effective?

A: Health officials are optimistic about the effectiveness of the updated vaccines, provided that no new variants emerge. XBB.1.5, the targeted variant, has diminished over time as the vaccine was modified. Recent laboratory tests conducted by vaccine manufacturers and research groups suggest that the updated shots will provide cross-protection. While earlier vaccinations or infections continue to guard against severe illness and death, protection tends to wane over time, especially against milder infections.

Q: Can I receive a flu shot and a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time?

A: Yes, you can. According to the CDC, there is no discernible difference in effectiveness or side effects when both vaccines are administered concurrently. However, it may be more comfortable to receive them in separate arms. The CDC strongly recommends an annual flu shot for almost everyone aged 6 months and older, with the ideal timing being by the end of October.

More about COVID-19 Vaccine Update

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4 comments

HealthGeek23 September 13, 2023 - 8:52 am

gr8 FAQ! everyone needs to kno about the new vaccine. dont 4get ur flu shot 2, it’s important.

Reply
Reader42 September 13, 2023 - 12:31 pm

wow, this update on covid19 vaccine is super helpful. cdc and fda approved it. get it at pharmacies, doc offices, and online. but where is the cost info tho? they say its free but 120-130$. confusing.

Reply
JournoLife September 13, 2023 - 6:44 pm

good article. serious topic. need these details 4 my work. keep it coming!

Reply
CuriousCat September 13, 2023 - 7:45 pm

i read that variants are changing, omg! r these shots still good tho? i hope they work.

Reply

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