By Amy Norton
Health Day Reporter
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2023 (HealthDay News) – COVID-19 Vaccine Added to List of Routine Immunizations Recommended for Adults for the First Time Medium – Further indication that the virus is here The federal government’s vaccination recommendations for all Americans.
Of course, the COVID vaccine has been recommended for as long as it has been available.
But its inclusion in the recommended vaccination schedule underscores the fact that COVID-19 is not going away, says Atlanta doctor Sandra Adamson Fleihofer (Sandra Adamson Fryhofer) who is the ACIP liaison.
“This reaffirms that COVID has gone from pandemic to endemic,” Fryhofer said. “For now, it looks like it’s here to stay.”
“Endemic” means the disease spreads at a more steady frequency, rather than growing exponentially during epidemics pandemic.
At this time, most Americans have been vaccinated against the primary series against COVID Vaccines. Few, however, have access to newer “bivalent” boosters that target both the original strain and the two Omicron subvariants of the virus that causes COVID.
It has been available since September, but only about 16% of Americans have it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This is even higher among people 65 and older, who are at increased risk for severe COVID. But at around 40%, it’s still much lower than public health experts would like to see.
Fryhofer was blunt: “Booster usage is sad.”
It’s not entirely clear why, but Fryhofer Point to vaccine “fatigue” as a possible reason, and the way COVID vaccinations have been politicized.
Meanwhile, a CDC report released last month found signs of education problems: More than 40% of Americans surveyed by the agency either didn’t know Newer COVID booster shots exist, or don’t know they qualify for shots.
The CDC recommends that everyone age 5 and older get a renewed booster dose if they are at least two months away from their last dose.
PhD. Aaron Glatt is director of the South Nassau Division of Infectious Diseases at Mount Sinai in Oceanside, New York. He agrees that ACIP’s inclusion of COVID vaccinations is another indicator that the virus is expected to persist.
But, says Glatt, “there’s not really a clear scientific consensus on the importance of [renewed boosters] for different age groups.”
Glatt said he focused on injecting boosters for relatively older people starting at age 50, he said. For healthy young adults, who are at lower risk of severe COVID, the benefit of getting another booster is less clear.
Both Glatt and Fryhofer encourage people to discuss their individual situation with their doctor. The new vaccination schedule includes links to CDC information that doctors and patients can use to decide on updated COVID boosters.
At this point, it’s not clear how effective COVID vaccination looks like going forward: it will be an annual immunization like the flu shot, recommended for adults and children ?
“It’s still developing,” Glatter said. “We’re going to have to wait and see.”
For anyone wondering, it’s not too late to get an updated booster, both doctors said. Currently, there is no COVID “season” like the flu.
However, Fryhofer pointed out, people may wish that booster shots were free while they were infected. This will no longer be the case once the Biden administration ends the COVID national health emergency declaration in May and the COVID vaccines the government still has on hand run out.
Most recommendations for adult immunizations remain unchanged except for the inclusion of COVID vaccinations. But there is one more that has to do with polio.
Most Americans were vaccinated against polio as children, and the risk of contracting the virus in the United States is “extremely low,” according to the CDC.
However, the 2023 recommendations state that some adults at risk of poliovirus exposure may consider a lifetime polio booster shot. This includes people who have traveled to polio-endemic countries.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there has been no sustained transmission of poliovirus in about 40 years. But last summer, the virus made headlines after a case of paralytic polio was reported in New York state. It hit a young man who had never been vaccinated against polio.
Complete vaccination schedule will be available in Annals of Internal Medicine on Feb. 10 and CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The CDC has more information on the updated COVID booster. Aaron Glatt, MD, Chief Infectious Disease and Hospital Epidemiologist at Mount Sinai, South Nassau, NY, and Professor of Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, NY; Annals of Internal Medicine,
February 10, 2023, Online