Updated versions of COVID-19 vaccines were approved Monday as cases and hospitalizations began to rise.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the new vaccines from both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, effective for the currently dominant Omicron variants such as Eg.5 and XBB.1.5.
“Vaccination remains critical to public health and continued protection against serious consequences of COVID-19, including hospitalization and death,” Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said. “The public can be assured that these updated vaccines have met the agency’s rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality. We very much encourage those who are eligible to consider getting vaccinated.”
Vaccines from both companies were previously approved by the FDA for people 12 and over and the updated vaccines will continue with the approval. The previous approval was for two doses in that age group, but the latest vaccine will only require one dose.
As far as children at 6 months old to 11 years old, the vaccine continues to be offered under emergency use authorization, but has not been given full approval by the FDA.
The Eg.5 (Eris) variant has become the dominant strain in the U.S., overtaking XBB 1.5. While multiple variants are still circulating, the original Omicron strain from 2021 is reportedly no longer found in the U.S.
Los Angeles County Public Health’s most recent sequencing showed that 22% of COVID-19 specimen were connected to the Eris variant, followed by XBB 1.5 with 14%.
As of this writing, Los Angeles County reported a daily average of 521 COVID-positive hospitalizations, a number twice as high as four weeks ago. In the past month, the average of COVID-19 related emergency room visits increased from 3.2% to 5.1 percent.
L.A. Public Health recommended the public use masks in crowded or poorly ventilated public areas, although it is not a requirement. It also advised residents stay current with their boosters, while also highlighting that therapeutics such as Paxlovid remain effective treatments for those who have been infected with the disease.
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