What to Know About Updated COVID-19 Vaccines
In what is certain to impact operations in healthcare facilities, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently took action approving and authorizing for emergency use updated COVID-19 vaccines formulated to more closely target currently circulating variants and to provide better protection against serious consequences of COVID-19, including hospitalization and death. The actions relate to updated mRNA vaccines for 2023-2024 manufactured by ModernaTX Inc. and Pfizer Inc. These vaccines have been updated to include a single component that corresponds to the Omicron variant XBB.1.5.
What You Need to Know
• 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.
• The FDA is confident in the safety and effectiveness of these updated vaccines and the agency’s benefit-risk assessment demonstrates that the benefits of these vaccines for individuals 6 months of age and older outweigh their risks.
• Individuals who receive an updated mRNA COVID-19 vaccine may experience similar side effects as those reported by individuals who previously received mRNA COVID-19 vaccines as described in the respective prescribing information or fact sheets.
• The updated vaccines are expected to provide good protection against COVID-19 from the currently circulating variants. Barring the emergence of a markedly more virulent variant, the FDA anticipates that the composition of COVID-19 vaccines may need to be updated annually, as is done for the seasonal influenza vaccine.
• Manufacturers have publicly announced that the updated vaccines would be ready this fall, and the FDA anticipates that the updated vaccines will be available in the near future.
“Vaccination remains critical to public health and continued protection against serious consequences of COVID-19, including hospitalization and death,” says Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “The public can be assured that these updated vaccines have met the agency’s rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality. We very much encourage those who are eligible to consider getting vaccinated.”
The updated mRNA vaccines are each approved for individuals 12 years of age and older and are authorized under emergency use for individuals 6 months through 11 years of age. As part of today’s actions, the bivalent Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines are no longer authorized for use in the United States.
Based on an evaluation of the totality of the evidence, the benefit-risk profile is favorable for individuals 6 months of age and older to receive an updated COVID-19 mRNA vaccine. Although serious outcomes from COVID-19 are less common in younger individuals, they do occur, and it has been demonstrated that recently receiving a COVID-19 vaccine reduces the risk of such serious outcomes.
In related news, COVID-19 outbreaks have already led to school closures in multiple districts across the United States. Read more on that here.