HHS Transitioning COVID-19 Vaccine to Commercial Distribution; Manufacturers to Distribute Updated Vaccines in the Fall
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it is sunsetting its distribution of bivalent COVID-19 vaccines on Aug. 3rd. After Aug. 3rd, COVID-19 vaccine distribution will shift to distribution directly from manufacturers through the commercial market. HHS's transition guide is available here.
Manufacturers will be updating their COVID-19 vaccines with a monovalent XBB.1.5 composition, based on the recent recommendation of the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) COVID Data Tracker, most COVID-19 cases now are due to the XBB subvariant strains, not BA.4 or BA.5. The currently available bivalent COVID-19 vaccines appear less effective against today's variants (i.e., XBB-lineage viruses) than against previous strains of virus.
It is expected that the updated vaccines will be available by mid-to-late September. It is unknown at this time whether there will be a recommended waiting period between the administration of the currently available bivalent vaccines and the new formulations. If so, this may preclude recently vaccinated residents and staff from receiving the new formulation upon its release.
With the suspension of the government distribution of vaccines on Aug. 3rd, there may be a shortage of the currently available COVID-19 vaccines until the updated vaccines become available. Members are urged to notify the Department of Health (DOH) and LeadingAge NY if they experience a shortage.
LeadingAge NY has reached out to DOH regarding its recommendations for vaccine administration pending the availability of the new vaccine formulations and for guidance regarding the requirements on nursing homes and adult care facilities (ACFs) to offer the vaccine to residents and staff. We will notify members when we receive any guidance.
Contact: Karen Lipson, firstname.lastname@example.org