Some COVID-19 programs have ended or changed after the Public Health Emergency (PHE) ended on…
Earlier this month, the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved the updated COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and Moderna. The Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) is universally recommending the updated vaccine to everyone aged six months and older. This recommendation ensures equitable access to all age groups.
The new dose was created to protect against XBB.1.5, a sub-variant of Omicron. While XBB.1.5 is no longer the dominant variant, the updated vaccine demonstrates effectiveness against similar variants like EG.5 (currently the dominant strain) and BA.2.86. Despite public fatigue regarding COVID-19 variants and vaccines, the recent rise in hospitalizations and deaths underscores the need to remain vigilant about COVID-19.
As COVID-19 continues to spread, the likelihood of changes to the virus increases, creating new versions called variants. New variants can be better at evading the protection many people gained from previous vaccinations or infections. This highlights the importance of staying up to date on vaccines. Much like influenza, which is updated yearly, the most up to date vaccine will give the best protection against the most current variants. Vaccines are our best tool to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death, and reduce the chance of Long COVID.
The updated vaccine will be covered by most insurance plans and will be available through providers and pharmacies. Those who are uninsured or underinsured will have access to free vaccines through the Bridge Access Program, which distributes vaccinations through local providers, health centers, and retail pharmacies.
You can learn more about the updated COVID-19 vaccine on the CDC website. To schedule your updated vaccine, talk to your doctor or visit vaccines.gov/search to find a vaccine provider. Community organizations such as Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies and Project Vision Hawaii will also be offering vaccines at various community events and clinics.