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COVID-19: CDC Expands Bivalent Vaccine Recommendation for Children

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Dec. 9 expanded its recommendation for bivalent COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 6 months to 5 years old. The bivalent vaccines target not only the original SARS-CoV-2 variant but also recently circulating omicron subvariants, which are more transmissible and immune-evading.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also amended on Dec. 8 the emergency use authorizations for the updated Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to include use in children as young as 6 months of age.

Children aged 6 months to 5 years old who previously completed a Moderna primary series are eligible to receive a Moderna bivalent booster two months after their final primary series dose.

Children aged 6 months through 4 years old who are currently completing a Pfizer primary series will receive a Pfizer bivalent vaccine as their third primary dose.

Although the CDC in June recommended primary COVID-19 vaccinations for infants and children ages 6 months through 4 years, COVID-19 vaccination rates for children remain low; 95 percent of children in this age group are not vaccinated or have not completed the COVID-19 vaccine primary series.

The CDC is working to increase parent and provider confidence in the COVID-19 vaccines and urges parents to talk with their child’s health care provider and address concerns. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra on Dec. 9 also urged Americans to vaccinate their children with a bivalent booster as soon as possible.

COVID-19 Flexibility for Other Respiratory Illnesses

Becerra released a Dec. 2 letter to U.S. governors reinforcing the Biden-Harris administration’s flexible policies available to states as they face rising numbers of COVID-19, influenza (flu), and respiratory syncytial virus infections (RSV).

Those flexible policies include blanket waivers that allow hospitals to screen or triage patients offsite, provide care in temporary expansion sites to boost surge capacity, and more easily transfer patients between facilities. Additionally, waivers remain in place that allow providers to receive payment for Medicare telehealth services.

“As your federal partner, we stand ready to evaluate any request for federal medical assistance and support – including requests for medical personnel and equipment – working in close coordination with you and local jurisdictions to determine the needs and availability of matching resources,” said Becerra, who noted that $400 million in funding from the CDC to prepare for public health threats each year also is available.

Visit the America’s Essential Hospitals coronavirus resource page for more information about the pandemic.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at eomalley@essentialhospitals.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.

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About the Author

Andrea Lugo is a communications associate at America's Essential Hospitals.

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