The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory committee voted Thursday to include the COVID-19 vaccine on its list of routine vaccinations for adults and children up to 6 months of age.
The agency’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted unanimously to add the coronavirus vaccine to the 2023 list, which includes influenza vaccines; measles, mumps, and rubella; poliomyelitis; and other vaccinations.
The full agency now needs to sign up to make the recommendation official. The CDC doesn’t have to follow the committee’s advice, although it often does. If the CDC approves the recommendation, the new list will be published in February.
Contrary to claims made on social media and television, including by Fox News host Tucker Carlson, the recommendation does not mean the CDC requires a COVID-19 shot for children. It also does not mean that schools will require students to receive the shot prior to registration.
“Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines based on public health are in place to help inform those decisions, but these are government decisions. Different states make different decisions and nothing is about what,” said Jane Keats, senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation. What the CDC did change that.”
Instead, the routine vote means that the CDC will recommend that people get the shots as a regular part of their vaccinations against common infectious diseases. A vaccination schedule is an important resource for clinicians, especially pediatricians, that can help guide them in the appropriate time to administer certain vaccinations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not have the authority to authorize vaccines; This decision is up to the states and local jurisdictions.
For example, the flu shot has long been included in the recommended childhood vaccination schedule, but hardly any state mandates it for public schools.
“Local control is important. And we are honored that the decision about school entry for vaccines is where it was before, that is, at the state level, at the county level and at the municipal level, if at all,” said committee member Nirav Shah, Director of Maine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Aside from being an important resource for clinicians, an immunization schedule is also important for insurance coverage, said Julie Morita, executive vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
When these vaccines are added to immunization schedules like these, insurance companies bear the cost of the vaccines. So when the public health emergency and/or federal resources are depleted, then insurers will bear the cost,” Morita said.
Public health experts have decried the spread of misinformation that has persisted throughout the pandemic.
“I think there are some people and some organizations that are intentionally publishing inaccurate information,” Keats said. “It is objectively misinformation being disseminated, which unfortunately has an indication that it could harm public health.”
Morita said public health officials and health care providers need to work together to ensure accurate information is readily and consistently available, in an effort to stave off a barrage of misinformation, particularly about the coronavirus vaccine.
“It should be a constant drumbeat,” Morita said. “You know, when resources change, and there’s not the same kind of attention to promoting a vaccine and addressing the facts and spreading information … then we look at low coverage levels and I think that’s a concern.”
ACIP members said that since the coronavirus will not go away, it makes sense to recommend that children be vaccinated.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the first COVID-19 vaccines in 2020, and they are now available for babies up to 6 months of age. Boosters are allowed for children up to 5 years old.
The primary vaccine against the original strain of the virus has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in adults and teens, but not yet for young children.
However, ACIP members said the benefits outweighed the risks and recommended including the initial shot of Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax as well as the new bivalent booster.
Updated at 3:58 PM
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