*Information compiled from the FDA and CDC
In a continued effort to combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the latest 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccines have received authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are now making their way to Washington state. While the initial vaccine supply may be limited, distribution will be phased out over time.
These updated vaccines have been meticulously developed to incorporate a monovalent (single) component, with a specific focus on targeting the Omicron variant XBB.1.5 of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This decision to enhance the vaccines is a response to the evolving nature of the virus and is intended to provide enhanced protection against COVID-19 as the nation transitions into the fall of 2023 and anticipates the challenges of 2024.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have extended their recommendation for COVID-19 vaccination to encompass individuals of all ages, starting from 6 months and older. This inclusive recommendation covers people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to become pregnant in the future.
However, an estimated 25-30 million adults in the country lack health insurance coverage, while others have insurance that doesn’t fully cover COVID-19 vaccine expenses. To address this issue, the CDC has launched the Bridge Access Program, which aims to provide no-cost COVID-19 vaccines to adults facing insurance barriers. This program is expected to remain active until December 31, 2024.
You can get these no-cost COVID-19 vaccines through various channels, including healthcare providers, federally supported health centers, and retail pharmacy chains participating in the Bridge Access Program. To locate providers offering these vaccines through the Bridge Access Program, visit vaccines.gov. Providers participating in the program are obligated to promptly report vaccine availability on the website, with availability expected to increase in the coming days.
In a bid to expand vaccine accessibility, the CDC has also forged new contracts with major pharmacy chains, such as CVS, Walgreens, and eTrueNorth, to provide no-cost COVID-19 vaccines.
Emphasizing the critical importance of vaccination, the CDC underscores its significance as we approach the fall and winter months. Vaccination remains the most effective defense against COVID-19-related hospitalization and death. Furthermore, it significantly reduces the risk of experiencing the lasting effects of Long COVID, a condition that can persist well after the acute infection has resolved. If you have not received a COVID-19 vaccine in the past two months, the CDC strongly recommends obtaining an updated COVID-19 vaccine to protect your health throughout the fall and winter.
Simultaneously with the vaccine updates, the federal government has resumed its distribution of free at-home COVID-19 test kits on Sept. 25. Each U.S. household is eligible to place an order to receive four additional free COVID-19 rapid tests, which will be delivered directly to your home.
Made possible in part by the Washington State Department of Health through a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This information does not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Washington State Department of Health or the Department of Health and Human Services.