Everyone older than six months will now only receive the updated COVID-19 vaccine that protects against more variants of the virus. People age 65 and older and those with a compromised immune system can now receive an additional dose to protect themselves against severe illness from COVID-19.
Anyone 6 years and older is considered up to date if they have already gotten an updated (bivalent) dose. The bivalent vaccine protects against both the original virus that causes COVID-19 and the newer Omicron variants. These changes are based on an updated authorization by the Food and Drug Administration and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced April 19th. Read the CDC’s full statement here.
“These changes are an important step toward the future for COVID-19 vaccines as we shift to regular routines that include the most up-to-date protection against the virus, similar to the annual flu shot,” said Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson, M.D., State Health Director and Chief Medical Officer for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. “We are thankful to so many North Carolinians who have already taken steps to protect themselves and their loved ones against serious complications from COVID-19 and remind you that if you have not had a COVID-19 vaccine since September of 2022, you are most likely due for an updated dose.”
The new guidance also allows for additional updated doses for certain high-risk groups to help boost protection against the virus:
- People ages 65 and older who already received an updated COVID-19 vaccine at least four months ago can get an additional dose.
- Individuals with a compromised immune system may need at least one updated dose two months after their last updated COVID-19 vaccine, at the discretion of a health care provider.
Parents should talk with a health care provider to make sure their child is up to date on COVID-19 and all other recommended vaccines. Most children ages 6 months to 5 years are eligible for an updated COVID-19 vaccine if they have been vaccinated but have not yet had an updated vaccine dose.
COVID-19 continues to be a very real risk for many people. Vaccination is effective at reducing the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19. The FDA has made these recommendations to simplify the previous vaccine guidance while offering people the most up to date protection against the virus.
COVID-19 vaccines are still free, regardless of insurance or immigration status. However, COVID-19 vaccines will soon become available like flu shots and other routine vaccinations and may no longer be free for everyone. People who do not have an established health care provider can find a vaccine provider nearby at MySpot.nc.gov or visit ncdhhs.gov/LHD to contact their local health department.
For more information about COVID-19 vaccines, visit MySpot.nc.gov or call the CDC-INFO Contact Center at 800-CDC-INFO.