Following Tuesday’s US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorization, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has made significant changes to their COVID-19 vaccine recommendations.

The biggest update is that both the FDA and CDC now recommend the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA bivalent mRNA vaccines (original and Omicron BA.4/BA.5 strains) be used for all future vaccinations in the US. This means both agencies are officially moving away from the original, monovalent COVID-19 vaccines.

The CDC now recommends:

  • Adults 65 years and older receive an additional dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 bivalent mRNA vaccine.
  • Everyone 6 years of age and older receive an updated bivalent mRNA vaccine (unless they have already).
  • Individuals who are unvaccinated against COVID-19 receive a single dose of an authorized bivalent vaccine, rather getting than multiple doses of original monovalent mRNA vaccines to complete a primary series.

Immunocompromised individuals may be eligible to receive additional doses of a bivalent vaccine, even if they have already. Persons with comorbidities or who are otherwise immunocompromised should consult with a health care provider to determine their need and ensure they are able to mount an adequate immune response to vaccination.

The new regulations were announced tonight, April 19, after the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) met to discuss these changes to their COVID-19 vaccine recommendation.

Most individuals who already received a single dose of the bivalent Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna booster are not yet eligible for another dose, unless they are immunocompromised or 65 years and older. The FDA will likely announce future vaccination recommendations after determining fall’s vaccine strain composition in their June advisory meeting.

For individuals unable to receive an updated bivalent COVID-19 vaccine, alternative options are still available. The CDC’s recommendation of the (monovalent) Novavax or Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccines were not affected today’s decision.

Keep up with COVID-19 and other vaccines on Contagion.

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