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US government recommends administering an updated COVID-19 booster to everyone, including infants aged 6 months.

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On Tuesday, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) signed a recommendation for all Americans aged 6 months and older to receive an updated COVID booster amid the rising number of COVID cases and hospitalizations across the country.

The leadership of the CDC approved the widespread use of updated COVID-19 vaccines for people aged 6 months and older on Tuesday. A nationwide vaccination campaign is set to begin in the coming days. The boosters, produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, are targeted at the variants currently in circulation and associated with the Omicron variant.

Mandy Cohen, the director of the CDC, made the decision after an expert group voted in favor of recommending the use of Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines by a large majority, with 13 in favor and 1 against. CDC director Mandy Cohen signed the recommendation a few hours after the vote, and the vaccines will be available at pharmacies and vaccination centers within 48 hours.

The recommendation applies to mRNA injections from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, both of which were approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday. The FDA is still reviewing the third Novavax injection, but officials have stated that this recommendation may also apply once the appropriate approval is granted.

Major pharmacy chains CVS and Walgreens have stated that vaccines will be available within a few days. New Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech boosters will be available at pharmacies, including one dose for individuals aged 5 and older and smaller doses for children aged 6 months to 4 years (two doses of Moderna or three doses of Pfizer-BioNTech).

Currently Voluntary and Free of Charge According to this recommendation, private and state insurance should make vaccines free of charge for most consumers with private health insurance or Medicare and Medicaid coverage. For uninsured individuals, Pfizer will cost $120 per dose, Moderna will cost $129 per dose, and Novavax will cost $130.

"We now have vaccinations against all three major seasonal respiratory viruses - COVID-19, flu, and RSV. COVID-19 vaccination remains the most important tool to protect against hospitalization, long-term complications, and death. Encourage all Americans to come for vaccination," said Biden.

Revaccination Every Couple of Months The CDC recommends that every American aged 5 and older receive one dose of the updated vaccine regardless of previous vaccinations. Children aged 6 months to 4 years who have not received a coronavirus vaccine are recommended to receive an initial series of two doses of Moderna or three doses of Pfizer-BioNTech. Doses should be from the same manufacturer. People with moderate or severe immunodeficiency who have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus are recommended to receive three doses of the updated vaccine.

According to the CDC, people who have recently been vaccinated should wait two months before receiving the updated vaccine. People who have recently been infected can wait three months, but they can also receive a booster "as soon as they feel better," according to CDC spokesperson Megan Wallace.

The US agency responsible for healthcare did not recommend vaccination only for high-risk groups, as other countries and some experts have proposed. Instead, recommendations were made to vaccinate virtually all segments of the population. This recommendation differs from recommendations in most European countries. In September, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) stated that COVID-19 vaccinations in EU countries should prioritize people aged 60 and older, as well as other vulnerable groups.

In Germany, booster vaccines were targeted at these groups, while the UK government's vaccine committee stated that vaccines would be offered only to adults aged 65 and older and some other population segments.

"I strongly advocate for universal recommendations," said expert group member and Harvard Medical School professor Dr. Camilla Kotton. "Let's end COVID-19 as effectively as possible by preventing infection through vaccines."

Updated Vaccines and Myocarditis

The CDC's guidance in the United States states that the recommendation to vaccinate everyone outweighs the complications and side effects of vaccines and boosters.

"I really do think that a broad strategy makes sense," said Caitlin Rivers, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore, adding that while the virus may not be causing as many hospitalizations and deaths as before, it still circulates among the population.

Rivers also noted her interest in the committee's recommendation for young men because "we see that in some cases in young men, myocarditis or related consequences can develop." Myocarditis is an inflammatory condition of the heart muscle.

The frequency of myocarditis following booster doses in adolescents and young adults is lower than after the use of first-generation vaccines, according to CDC spokesperson Megan Wallace. She added that the data is limited due to the smaller number of booster doses administered, and longer intervals between updated doses may also affect myocarditis rates in this vaccinated group.

The number of COVID infections and hospitalizations is rising in the United States, Europe, and Asia, but it remains significantly lower than previous peaks. Mortality in the United States is relatively low; around 2,000 people died from the virus in the country last month, although there have been 1.1 million COVID-related deaths in the country since the start of the pandemic.

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