The newly approved updated COVID shot now targets Omicron variant XBB.1.5., which is closely related to the COVID variants spreading right now. Moving forward, federal health officials want the public to think of the shots as a recommended yearly COVID vaccine, anticipating an updated shot based on what strains are prevalent.
Between the FDA's authorization and approvals, and the CDC's recommendations to patients, doctors now have to weed through many specifics, including age, immunity status and previous vaccinations.
Here's information on who should get the new shot:
For anyone 5 and older: You can get a single dose, as long as it has been at least 2 months since the last dose of any COVID-19 vaccine.
For children 6 months - 4 years old: Previously vaccinated — one or two doses. Timing and number of doses depends on the previous COVID-19 vaccines received.
If they're unvaccinated: Three doses of the updated authorized Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine or two doses of the updated authorized Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
For those moderately to severely immunocompromised: You may get an initial Moderna or Pfizer series of shots and boosters, one updated shot and additional doses of the updated vaccine if your doctor recommends it.
Dr. Sterling Ransone with the American Academy of Family Physicians has recently been seeing more patients with COVID. The updated COVID vaccine comes at a time when many patients should also consider flu and RSV shots ahead of winter.
"For most of my patients over 60 these days, I'm recommending that they get their flu shot, that they get their updated COVID booster and that they get an RSV vaccine. So it's a big three this year," said Ransone.
The vaccines protect those who get it from severe consequences if they get infected.
Nationwide, COVID hospitalizations and death rates are rising. However, the levels are far lower than past seasons.
Wastewater, which can indicate community spread, shows increases nationally.
"The Midwest has seen the largest increases. After that, we have the Northeast and South region of the United States. And then the West is sort of still in the middle third of our measurements," said Alessandro Zulli, a wastewater scan researcher.
This is the first time COVID shots are available on the commercial market. In today's meeting, drugmakers shared list prices ranging from $120-$130 a dose. Under the Affordable Care Act, commercial and government insurance will still cover the cost.
The first shipments of the new vaccines are expected to be available by the end of the week in doctors' offices and pharmacies.
The CDC says, "Most Americans can still get a COVID-19 vaccine for free. 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."
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