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Pharmacy News

Dr Marie Sartain
/ Categories: APhA News

Updated COVID-19 vaccines, recommended for all, available at pharmacies and covered by insurance

CDC's director has signed off on the widespread use of updated COVID-19 vaccines, which are intended to better align with SARS-CoV-2 strains now in circulation.

On September 12, 2023, CDC’s ACIP recommended that everyone 6 months and older receive at least one dose of the vaccine. Although infants and those 65 years and older are at the greatest risk from COVID-19, the committee strayed away from making a nuanced recommendation, saying that it would likely add to existing inequities for vaccine uptake.

COVID-19 vaccines will still be free for most Americans with health insurance coverage and federal officials said they are working on a program to provide no-cost vaccines to those without insurance.

Major pharmacy chains, including Walgreens and CVS, are gearing up to administer the COVID-19 vaccines, and are expected to receive supplies of the updated vaccines in the coming days.

FDA approved the updated vaccines developed by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech on September 11, 2023. In the coming months, guidelines are expected to be released to include vaccines by Novavax and any others authorized by FDA.

In addition to COVID-19 vaccines, pharmacists will continue to provide the influenza vaccine and the newly available respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine this fall.

CDC recommends an annual influenza vaccination for everyone 6 months of age or older if they have no contraindications. Most individuals who need only one dose of influenza vaccine should receive the vaccination in September or October.

For the RSV vaccine, CDC recommends that adults 60 years of age and older receive a single dose of RSV vaccine using shared clinical decision-making. Factors that should be considered during shared clinical decision-making include: chronic lung diseases, chronic CVD, immune compromise, hematologic disorders, neurologic disorders, endocrine disorders, kidney and liver disorders, other underlying conditions that may increase the risk of severe respiratory illness, and whether the patients is a resident of a nursing home or other long-term care facility. Optimally, RSV vaccination should occur before the onset of increased RSV activity in the community.

According to Jeffrey Duchin, MD, from the University of Washington School of Public Health and liaison to CDC’s ACIP, recommendations do allow for simultaneous administration of the COVID-19, flu, and RSV vaccines. However, if patients have the luxury of making multiple trips to get the vaccines, they can be spaced out.

“If it’s now or never, do it all now,” he said.

Patients can always talk to their pharmacist or health care provider about what is best for them.

To learn more, check out APhA’s resource on key considerations for safe co-administration of vaccines.

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