What the End of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Means in MA
The state and federal COVID-19 public health emergency declaration expired on May 11, 2023, three years after the onset of the pandemic. Although this does not mark the end of the pandemic, the formal ending of the emergency order will lead to some changes in coverage and masking guidelines. Health insurers will continue to cover the cost of COVID tests; however, private health insurers will no longer be required to provide free rapid antigen tests. Access to vaccines and treatments will remain unaffected as their coverage by insurance continues. Healthcare facilities can set their own mask policies, allowing hospital systems to lift their masking requirements. The Commonwealth will continue to focus resources on prevention and virus management. Learn more at mass.gov/covid-19.
Extra Spring COVID Booster Cleared for Certain Americans
U.S. regulators have cleared another COVID-19 booster dose for older adults and people with weak immune systems so they can shore up protection this spring. The FDA ruled that anyone 65 or older can opt to receive the booster as long as it’s been at least four months since their first dose of the bivalent vaccine, which targets omicron strains. Additionally, most people who are immune-compromised can receive another bivalent booster shot at least two months after their last dose, with additional doses in the future at the discretion of their physician. For everyone else, regardless of whether it’s a first shot or a booster, the FDA also said the original versions of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are outdated and will no longer be used. Instead, anyone getting a Pfizer or Moderna shot will receive the newer omicron-targeted version. For most people, if it’s their first-ever vaccine, just one combo dose will be enough. The FDA is expected to decide over the summer if younger, healthy people will eventually be offered a second bivalent booster.
FDA Approves United States’ First-Ever RSV Vaccine
The FDA recently approved GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccine against the respiratory syncytial virus, making it the first authorized RSV shot in the U.S. GSK's vaccine is approved for adults aged 60 and older, a population that is particularly vulnerable to RSV. The disease causes up to 10,000 deaths and as many as 160,000 hospitalizations for people 65 and up per year, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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