Triple set of vaccines coming: What to know

Vaccines for the three most closely watched viruses — COVID-19, flu and respiratory syncytial virus — will soon be available just before the respiratory virus season is in full swing.

Questions remain about the rate at which U.S. adults will receive the vaccines after fewer than 23 percent of adults chose to receive the COVID-19 booster last fall, according to KFF News. On top of that, by the end of the 2022-23 flu season, the CDC reported that only 54 percent of adults chose to get the flu vaccine. 

Now with a new vaccine in the Rolodex — the RSV vaccine for older adults and infants — there will be another to watch. 

Here's the latest on all three vaccines that will be available this fall: 

COVID-19: The FDA and CDC recently cleared two mRNA COVID-19 booster vaccines, Pfizer's Comirnaty and Moderna's Spikevax, for everyone 6 months and older. The boosters nullify the authorization of last fall's bivalent vaccine, which targeted the BA.4 and BA.5 variants and the original strain. 

The new shots focus exclusively on XBB.1.5, a variant that dominated during summer 2023 and now accounts for about 3 percent of cases, according to CDC data. Moderna said its booster is also effective against high-circulating variants, including EG.5 (21.5 percent of cases), FL.1.5.1 (14.5 percent) and BA.2.86 (less than one percent). 

The FDA approved the boosters for people 12 and older and authorized the shots for emergency use among those aged between 6 months and 11 years. CDC projections show the shots will prevent about 400,000 hospitalizations and 40,000 deaths over the next two years. 

Because the public health emergency ended in May, Pfizer and Moderna are selling the shots between $110 and $130 each. 

Flu: The CDC recommends most people aged 6 months and older receive the flu shot in September or October. One key change to this year's vaccine recommendation was the egg allergy guideline, which now says people with egg allergies can receive an egg-based flu vaccine. 

In the Southern Hemisphere, the influenza vaccine reduced the risk of hospitalizations by 52 percent, and the same flu shots are expected to offer similar protection in the U.S. 

RSV: In June, the CDC recommended adults over 60 years of age receive the recently approved RSV vaccine this fall. Following that, in August, the agency also unanimously recommended AstraZeneca and Sanofi's jointly developed RSV immunization for infants who are younger than 8 months. GSK and Pfizer also have RSV vaccines approved for older adults.

In late August, the FDA also approved Abrysvo, a maternal vaccine to protect infants from RSV.

Health officials anticipate RSV infections will peak in December or January, following its typical seasonal activity pattern. According to the CDC, "vaccination should occur before the onset of the fall and winter RSV season," but at the same time, the agency also notes that "for the 2023–24 RSV season, providers should offer RSV vaccination as early as vaccine supply becomes available." 

Some insurance payers have said they will not cover adult RSV vaccines, however, which could cost some older adults up to $330.


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