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CDC Recommends New Bivalent COVID-19 Booster for Individuals 12 and Over

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending that all individuals age 12 years and older receive an updated COVID-19 booster when eligible. It is urging this booster before a possible surge in COVID-19 illnesses later this fall and winter.

Vaccine supply should be available within the week. The State has not yet provided any update on provision of the booster. It is likely that providers will work with their contracting long term care pharmacies to obtain supply.

The new updated booster targets the most recent Omicron subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5, that are more transmissible and more likely to be able to evade antibodies made against earlier subvariants. The Pfizer-BioNTech updated COVID-19 booster is recommended for adolescents and adults ages 12 years and older, and the Moderna updated COVID-19 booster for adults ages 18 years and older.

All individuals who are eligible, including those who are moderately or severely immunocompromised, are recommended to receive one dose of the updated vaccine at least two months since their last COVID-19 dose (either the final primary series dose or the last booster).

The CDC has also streamlined what it means to be “up to date” with COVID-19 vaccines. It has long recommended that individuals stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccination, including receiving all primary series and booster doses. According to the CDC, individuals are up to date if they have completed a primary series and received the most recent booster dose recommended by the CDC.

Nursing home members may be asking about the new bivalent booster recommendation and how it will affect surveys. Providers are asking about the definition of “up to date” for survey purposes. LeadingAge National inquired about the "up to date" reference, and for now, it appears that the existing guidance (which does not address the bivalent booster) holds. Per a communication from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Quality, Safety, and Oversight Group:

“The bivalent recommendation just came down Thursday. The surveyors will be surveying to existing guidance which doesn’t speak to the bivalent booster. If resident/staff are currently 'up to date' with the existing boosters, they should be considered up to date for compliance, and we’ll provide additional information regarding the bivalent as we look into this more.”

LeadingAge NY recognizes that the current CMS guidance connects to an updated CDC "up to date" definition, and this communication conflicts with the CMS statement. At this time, CMS is holding this position.

The State has also not issued updated guidance requiring the new bivalent vaccine. LeadingAge NY will be sure to update members if and when that occurs.

For a helpful CDC slide deck on the new booster recommendations, click here.

Contact: Meg Everett, meverett@leadingageny.org, 518-867-8871