CDC Signals Changes to COVID-19 Vaccine Schedule, in Part to Address Heart Inflammation

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Feb. 4 outlined an expected change to the COVID-19 vaccine schedule for people with weak immune systems and signaled that a different alteration is coming for the general population to try to cut the number of post-vaccination heart inflammation cases.

The CDC told its vaccine advisory panel that it’s planning to adjust guidance for people with compromised immune systems, a group that doesn’t respond as well to vaccines as the general population and is the only population that is advised to get four doses of the Moderna or Pfizer messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines.

Current CDC guidance for the immunocompromised says they should receive three doses of an mRNA vaccine within two months, and a fourth dose at least five months after the third dose.

The revised schedule would recommend the population get that fourth shot as soon as three months after their third one.

For recipients in the population who received the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, the updated guidance says they should get a second dose at least 28 days after their vaccination, and a third dose as soon as two months later.

The guidance update applies to people 18 and older who received the Johnson & Johnson or Moderna vaccines, and people 12 and up who received the Pfizer jab.

The rationale for the adjustment includes small studies that indicate the immunocompromised are better protected if they get the fourth shot sooner, Elisha Hall, a health education specialist at the CDC, told the panel, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

The goal is “to help this population that may not be as well protected get their booster dose sooner, particularly with concerns about initial immune response, loss of protection over time, and high community transmission due to the Omicron variant,” she said.

Omicron is the dominant variant of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus in the United States. The CCP virus causes COVID-19.

The vaccines already were waning in protection over time against infection while the Delta variant was dominant in the country, and have performed even worse against the Omicron strain.

By Zachary Stieber

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