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COVID-19: CDC Recommends Immunization Schedule Update, Administration Launches Biodefense Strategy

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Oct. 20 recommended updating the 2023 childhood and adult immunization schedules to include COVID-19 vaccines.

The agency clarified that state or local jurisdictions will still determine school-entry vaccination requirements and that the recommendation serves simply to streamline clinical guidance for health care providers.

Following the Food and Drug Administration’s Oct. 12 emergency use authorization of both the bivalent Moderna COVID-19 and the bivalent Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines, which allowed a single booster dose in children ages 5 through 11, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced that Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program coverage is available for eligible covered children for the updated COVID-19 vaccines.

Administration Releases Biodefense and Future Pandemic Strategy

The Biden-Harris administration on Oct. 18 released its comprehensive plan to strengthen the nation’s health security, prepare for biothreats, and protect the nation from future pandemics.

The National Biodefense Strategy and Implementation Plan for Countering Biological Threats, Enhancing Pandemic Preparedness, and Achieving Global Health Security details the administration’s plans to:

  • detect pandemics and other biological threats by accelerating the development and deployment of new technologies that can rapidly detect novel pathogens;
  • prevent outbreaks from becoming epidemics and prevent biological incidents before they happen by investing in critical multilateral institutions that further strengthen the global health architecture; and
  • prepare for pandemics and other biological incidents by working to strengthen and modernize domestic public, veterinary, and plant health capacity at every level.

The strategy also includes a plan to respond rapidly to outbreaks by activating an integrated federal research agenda within 14 days of the determination of a domestically or internationally significant biological incident.

Additionally, the administration plans to partner with state, local, tribal, and territorial governments and communities to recover from any future pandemic or biological incident.

The administration noted that the plan, as well as the president’s request for $88 billion over five years for pandemic preparedness and biodefense, will require support from Congress to provide additional resources.

CDC Allows Novavax Monovalent Boosters for Adults

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, signed a decision memo on Oct. 19 allowing Novavax monovalent COVID-19 boosters for adults.

The decision permits individuals ages 18 and older to receive a Novavax monovalent booster instead of a bivalent Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech booster dose if they have completed a primary series vaccination but have not yet received a COVID-19 booster.

Since the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is designed and manufactured differently than mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, including Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, the authorization widens the vaccination options to individuals who may have an allergic reaction to mRNA vaccines or who prefer not to receive an mRNA vaccine and have remained unvaccinated as a result.

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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