The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s advisory committee has recomended children over the age of six months and adults should get the COVID-19 vaccine when they are eligible.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ unanimous vote is not final. The CDC will now decide whether or not to officially add the COVID-19 vaccine to the immunization schedule.
The committee meets annually to review the vaccine immunization schedule, which set a recommended timeline for when people – most commonly children – receive vaccines. This includes vaccinations for polio, whopping cough, and measles.
The CDC is expected to follow the committee’s recommendation.
The agency first recommended children ages six months to five years receive a COVID-19 vaccine in June, stating that the “COVID-19 vaccines have undergone—and will continue to undergo—the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S.”
ACIP said its vote “represents another step in the nation’s recovery” from the global pandemic that caused widespread lockdowns and public health advisories.
“It has been almost two years since COVID-19 vaccines were first rolled out in the U.S., and nearly 630 million doses have since been administered nationwide, providing people with critical protection against severe COVID-19,” the ACIP said in a statement on Oct. 20. “It’s important to note that there are no changes in COVID-19 vaccine policy, and today’s action simply helps streamline clinical guidance for healthcare providers by including all currently licensed, authorized and routinely recommended vaccines in one document.”
State and local government will still decide which vaccinations are required for school attendance. Some schools already require students to get the COVID-19 vaccines.
“Children attending school this year in Washington, D.C. are required to get the COVID-19 vaccine,” reports KHOU-11. “California is planning to add the COVID-19 shot to its list of required vaccines, but this won’t happen until the 2023-2024 school year at the earliest.”
In the past, the CDC has added vaccines to the immunization schedules that are not universaly required by schools. Rhode Island, Washington DC and Puerto Rico require public school students to get the HPV vaccine, which the agency added to the recommended schedule in 2006. Only girls attending public schools have to get the vaccine in Virginia, per NBC News.
Vaccination rates among children have declined during the last two years. Approximately 94% of kindergarteners had their required vaccines during the 2020-2021 – 1% less than the CDC’s goal.
Disruptions to regular pediatric care caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise in remote and homeschooling, as well as increased vaccine skepticism among parents are all theorized to be among the causes of the decrease.
“Nationally, the vaccination rate was slightly below 94% for the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine; the diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine; and for the varicella vaccine (chickenpox),” reports US News & World Report.
An updated immunization schedule is expected to be released in the beginning of 2023.