As COVID-19 cases rise, CDC recommends everyone get vaccinated heading into fall

With new cases of COVID-19 emerging in parts of the United States, health authorities are preparing a vaccination campaign for the fall.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this Thursday recommended new vaccines for all Americans in the fall.

“Our main recommendation for protect yourself and your loved ones of respiratory diseases is to get vaccinated,” Dr. Mandy Cohen, director of the CDC, stated in a statement.

Officials acknowledged that the need for vaccination is not as pressing as it was a few years ago. Most Americans have some degree of immunity from being infected, from previous vaccinations or from both. COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations last month were at their lowest point since the pandemic first hit the United States in 2020.

But immunity is waning, new coronavirus variants continue to emerge, and there are still hundreds of COVID-19-associated deaths and thousands of hospitalizations reported each week.

In addition, health authorities have reported a Emergency room visits up this month and coronavirus-related hospitalizations, as well as a sharp increase in positive test results in the southwestern United States.

Lauren Ancel Meyers of the University of Texas, who leads a research team tracking COVID-19, said it was unclear whether this was a sign of a summer surge coming, as has happened in the past, or just a one-off episode.

“We will have to see what happens in the coming weeks,” he stressed.

At a meeting this Thursday at the CDC in Atlanta, infectious disease experts voted in favor of recommend updated COVID-19 vaccines for Americans 6 months of age and older.

Health officials have told Americans to expect an annual update on Covid vaccines, just as they are recommended to get vaccinated each fall to protect against the latest strains of flu.

Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration, following guidance from its own group of expert advisors, told vaccine makers to focus on the JN.1 version of the virus. But a week later, the FDA told manufacturers that if they still had time to change, a better target might be a derived subtype of the virus called KP.2.

This Thursday, the CDC advisory panel voted 11-0 in favor of a new round of vaccines, which authorities say should be available in August and September.

Many Americans are not following CDC advice.

Last month, fewer than a quarter of American adults and 14% of children were up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations. Polls show that fewer Americans think the coronavirus is a major threat to the health of the U.S. population, and fewer doctors are urging their patients to get their shots up to date.

CDC officials on Thursday presented the results of a recent survey in which about 23% of respondents said they would get a COVID vaccine in the fall, but 33% said they would not do it.

Meanwhile, the CDC’s Bridge Access Program, which has been paying for vaccines for uninsured American adults, is expected to close in August due to a disruption in its funding. The program paid for nearly 1.5 million doses from September to last month.

“The demise of this program is a challenge,” said the CDC’s Shannon Stokley.

According to the CDC, there have been around 1.2 million deaths in the United States associated with COVID-19 since the beginning of 2020. The number was highest in the winter of 2020-2021, when weekly deaths exceeded 20,000. About 1 in 100 Americans age 75 and older were hospitalized with coronavirus in the past four years, CDC officials said Thursday.