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CDC recommends new COVID vaccines for Americans 6 months and older

Most Americans should get an updated COVID-19 vaccine, health officials said Tuesday.

Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed the new shots for everyone 6 months and older and the agency’s director quickly signed off Tuesday on the panel’s recommendation. That means doses should be available this week, some as early as Wednesday.

The severity of the COVID-19 pandemic has faded, but there are still hundreds of hospitalizations and hundreds of deaths in the U.S. each week. Hospitalizations have been increasing since late summer, though the latest data indicate infections may be starting to level off, particularly in the South.

Still, experts worry that immunity from previous vaccinations and infections is fading in many people, and a new shot would save many lives.

According to a survey last month that CDC cited, about 42% said they would definitely or probably get the new vaccine. Yet only about 20% of adults got an updated booster when it was offered a year ago.

Will They be Effective Enough?

Health officials are optimistic, barring a new mutant. As expected, XBB.1.5 has faded away in the months it took to tweak the vaccine. Today, there is a soup of different coronavirus variants causing illness and the most common ones are fairly close relatives. Recent lab testing from vaccine makers and other research groups suggest the updated shots will offer crossover protection.

Earlier vaccinations or infections have continued to help prevent severe disease and death but protection wanes over time, especially against milder infections as the virus continually evolves. The FDA did allow seniors and others at high risk to get an extra booster dose last spring. But most Americans haven’t had a vaccination in about a year.

Can I Get a Flu Shot and COVID-19 Shot at the Same Time?

Yes. The CDC says there is no difference in effectiveness or side effects if people get those vaccines simultaneously, although one in each arm might be more comfortable. The CDC urges a yearly flu shot for pretty much everyone ages 6 months and up. The best time is by the end of October

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