The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday recommended updated COVID-19 vaccines for people 6 months of age and older.
Director Mandy Cohen late Tuesday backed the findings of CDC advisers, who voted 13-to-1 for approval earlier in the day. The updated vaccines from Moderna Inc.
and Pfizer Inc.
should become available later this week.
“We have more tools than ever to prevent the worst outcomes from COVID-19,” Cohen said in a statement. “CDC is now recommending updated COVID-19 vaccination for everyone 6 months and older to better protect you and your loved ones.”
The move comes just one day after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the updated shots from Moderna and Pfizer. The FDA approved single-dose vaccines for people 12 and older and authorized emergency use of new shots for children as young as 6 months.
The CDC recommendations Tuesday include some key changes from the recommendations that previously applied to the bivalent COVID vaccines. People age 65 and older were recommended to get a second bivalent dose, for example, but the CDC is not currently recommending two doses of the new shot for older adults. The CDC said it will monitor epidemiology and vaccine effectiveness to determine if additional doses are needed.
The recommendations come as the vaccines are transitioning from federal procurement and distribution to the commercial market. The new shots are expected to have list prices of $110 to $130 per dose. But the Affordable Care Act requires insurers to cover most vaccines recommended by the CDC advisory committee at no cost to plan enrollees, and people with Medicare and Medicaid also have no-cost access to the vaccines.
The CDC meeting Tuesday addressed some concerns about the accessibility and cost of the vaccines for people without health-insurance coverage. The CDC’s new Bridge Access program will provide free shots to uninsured people within days at retail pharmacies as well as local health centers, the CDC said. The agency had previously said that the free shots might not arrive in retail pharmacies until mid-October. The federal government’s vaccines.gov website will be updated later this week to list Bridge Access program sites, the CDC said.
Roughly 25 million to 30 million U.S. adults do not have health insurance. About 85% of people without coverage live within 5 miles of a Bridge Access program site, according to CDC data.
Under the Bridge Access program, CVS Health Corp.
will administer doses in stores and Minute Clinics, the CDC said, and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.
will offer doses in stores and at off-site events that target areas of low access and uptake. Healthcare-services company eTrueNorth is also working with the program to reach lower-access areas without other coverage under the program, the CDC said.