(Santa Ana, CA) – Following the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory action this week on updated 2023-2024 mRNA COVID-19 vaccinations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) endorsed recommendations for the use of updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 mRNA vaccines. The new season’s COVID-19 vaccine is more closely matched to the strains of virus circulating now and for those expected though winter. The new recommendations also further simplify the vaccination schedule for most individuals.
According to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), recommendations for the updated 2023-2024 vaccines are supported by available safety and efficacy data.
“This is a welcomed development, moving COVID-19 vaccination closer to how we use influenza vaccines, updating the vaccine to try to match with the viruses expected to cause disease,” said Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, the OC Health Care Agency’s (HCA) Chief of Public Health Services and County Health Officer. “Individuals who never had any COVID-19 vaccines as well as those who had previous vaccines can now be vaccinated with the same updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine.”
The revised recommendations include the following:
- Individuals 5 years of age and older regardless of previous vaccination are eligible to receive a single dose of an updated mRNA COVID-19 vaccine at least 2 months since the last dose of any COVID-19 vaccine.
- Individuals 6 months through 4 years of age who have previously been vaccinated against COVID-19 are eligible to receive one or two doses of an updated mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (timing and number of doses to administer depends on the previous COVID-19 vaccine received).
- Unvaccinated individuals 6 months through 4 years of age are eligible to receive three doses of the updated authorized Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine or two doses of the updated authorized Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine.
- Providers should review CDC Interim Clinical Considerations for the Use of COVID-19 Vaccines Currently Authorized in the United States when they are updated for the specific scenarios, including vaccinating immunocompromised individuals.
- The bivalent Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines are no longer authorized for use in the United States. Bivalent Novavax vaccine remains authorized for use for those 12 years and older and may still be administered if it is determined that the individual should not wait for a 2023-2024 Novavax COVID-19 vaccine or receive a 2023-2024 mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.
- Health care providers including pharmacies can order vaccine directly from the manufacturers.
- Patients with insurance should reach out to their usual provider or pharmacy to find out if or when they will have the updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccines available.
- The federal Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program which provides vaccines to children who are served by Medicaid or are under or uninsured will be supplying updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccines to these children. Parents should reach out to their child’s provider to find out the timing of availability.
- For uninsured and underinsured adults, the CDC has created the Bridge Access Program (BAP) so that uninsured people will continue to have access to no-cost vaccine. BAP vaccine will be available through the HCA, federally supported health centers (FQHC’s), as well as commercial pharmacies that have contracted to participate. Currently, this includes all CVS and Walgreens pharmacies, but additional pharmacies are expected to join.
- The www.Vaccines.gov website is expected to be updated with COVID-19 vaccine availability as the vaccine is distributed to pharmacies and clinics.
COVID-19 continues to be a risk for many people. Currently, the county is experiencing an increase in reports of cases, with an increase in the proportion of people testing positive for COVID-19. Hospitalizations for COVID-19 have increased since July, although remain at low levels compared to past waves of COVID-19 disease. The HCA strongly encourages individuals to get the updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine as available data continues to demonstrate that vaccines prevent the most serious outcomes of COVID-19 such as severe illness, hospitalization, and death.
The HCA will continue to update guidance in cooperation with state and federal partners. In order to ensure Orange County residents have the information needed, the HCA responds to community inquiries through the Agency’s Health Referral Line at 1-800-564-8448, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information on COVID-19 including resources, case counts, vaccination, and testing in Orange County, visit ochealthinfo.com/covid.