Home National news Updated COVID-19 vaccine now available

Updated COVID-19 vaccine now available

by PRIDE Newsdesk
Vaccination remains the best protection against COVID-19-related hospitalization and death.

by Heather M. Butts, JD, MPH, MA

As of September 12, updated COVID-19 vaccines are now available that more closely target circulating variants. Based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, eligible patients can receive a single dose of an updated COVID-19 vaccine at least two months after their last dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

On September 11, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) amended the emergency use authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to include the 2023–24 formula. The CDC released specific guidance saying the “CDC recommends everyone six months and older get an updated COVID-19 vaccine to protect against the potentially serious outcomes of COVID-19 illness this fall and winter.”

According to the CDC, Medicaid, Medicare, and most commercial health plans will fully cover the cost of vaccination. Those who are uninsured can get vaccinated through Metro Public Health Department locations.

The Biden Administration has also made a commitment to provide free vaccinations for uninsured individuals under the HHS Bridge Access Program. The first few weeks of the roll-out have found challenges, including cancellations of appointments for individuals, billing issues, and difficulties obtaining the vaccine.

Dr. Denis Nash, distinguished professor at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and executive director, CUNY Institute for Implementation Science in Population Health, said in an interview: “As we head into respiratory virus season, if you’re medically vulnerable or older than 60 or 65, you should be up to date on your vaccines.”

Nash spoke specifically about other illnesses, including the flu and RSV, and said that getting both vaccines is important and recommended doing so for those who are eligible. Those unfortunate enough to get COVID, Nash suggested, should “try to get access to antivirals from your healthcare provider.”

Time is of the essence in such situations. “You have to get it soon after you test positive for it to really work, but it does reduce the risk of hospitalization and death by quite a bit and it’s one of the best tools we have to prevent more deaths from COVID.”

Nash’s advice is shared by the CDC. In a recent press release, the CDC said “vaccination also reduces your chance of suffering the effects of Long COVID, which can develop during or following acute infection and last for an extended duration.  If you have not received a COVID-19 vaccine in the past two months, get an updated COVID-19 vaccine to protect yourself this fall and winter.”

According to the Health Department, those who should prioritize getting the vaccine include:

  • People with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk for severe outcomes
  • Those who are 65 or older
  • Those who are pregnant
  • People with certain disabilities that may increase their risk for having underlying chronic conditions or immunodeficiency

Free COVID tests are also available from the website <www.covid.gov/tests>.

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