Vaccination with the latest updated vaccines continues to be foundational to a multilayered approach to COVID, providing protection against both acute disease and Long COVID. In a failure of the “simplified” annual vaccine approach, far too few Americans have received the latest vaccines. Only approximately 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 10 children have received the latest 2023-2024 vaccines (as of February 1, 2024), which have been available since fall 2023.
This spring, even those who received the updated vaccines in fall 2023 may not have adequate protection under the annual vaccine strategy, as vaccine efficacy wanes significantly four to six months following vaccination. Per the CDC’s recommendations, only immunocompromised adults are eligible for COVID vaccines more frequently than once a year. The eligibility criteria are too restrictive, putting all of us at risk and leaving those at high risk of severe consequences of COVID infection confused about whether they qualify to receive additional doses. A more frequent vaccination approach and frequent updates to match current variants is needed to better protect all of us amid year-round COVID spread.
The CDC’s Bridge Access Program, which provides COVID vaccines to uninsured and underinsured adults free of charge, is due to end December 31, 2024. It is important to let public health officials know that the end of this program will unnecessarily put vulnerable people at risk.
Submitted written comments or registration to make oral comment at the meeting must be received by the CDC no later than February 22, 2024 at 11:59pm Eastern Standard Time.