U.S. Approves Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech’s Updated COVID-19 Vaccines for Fall and Winter Protection
The information presented in this article was first reported by News12 New Jersey.
The U.S. has approved updated COVID-19 vaccines with the aim of enhancing protection against the latest strains of the coronavirus, especially for the upcoming fall and winter seasons. This decision by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows most Americans to access the latest vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, even if they haven’t previously received a COVID-19 vaccine. The approach is now shifting towards treating COVID-19 vaccine updates similarly to annual flu shots.
However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still needs to give its approval. A CDC advisory panel is scheduled to provide recommendations on the target groups for these updated vaccines. If approved, vaccinations could commence later this week. Notably, individuals can receive both the COVID-19 and flu vaccines during the same appointment.
While COVID-19 hospitalizations have seen an uptick since the end of summer, the numbers are not as high as the previous year, thanks to the immunity provided by earlier vaccinations and infections. However, the efficacy of the vaccine diminishes over time, and the virus continues to mutate, producing new variants that can evade the immunity from previous vaccines. It’s noteworthy that it has been a year since the last vaccine update.
The updated vaccines are available for adults and children as young as six months. For those aged five and above, a single dose is sufficient even if they haven’t had a prior COVID-19 vaccine. The dosage for younger children may vary based on their COVID-19 infection and vaccination history.
The latest vaccines target an omicron variant labeled XBB.1.5. Although this strain is no longer predominant, it closely resembles the current dominant strains, leading the FDA to believe it would provide effective cross-protection. These vaccines are designed to replace the combination vaccines that offered protection against the original coronavirus strain and older omicron variants. They are anticipated to primarily guard against severe illness, hospitalization, and death, rather than mild infections.