A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory panel voted Thursday to include the COVID-19 vaccine on the list of routine immunizations for adults and children as young as 6 months.
The agency’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) unanimously voted to add the coronavirus shot to the 2023 list, which includes shots for the flu; measles, mumps and rubella; polio; and other inoculations.
The full agency now needs to sign off to make the recommendation official. The CDC doesn’t have to follow the advice of the panel, though it often does. If the CDC endorses the recommendation, the new list would be published in February.
Contrary to claims made on social media and on television, including by Fox News host Tucker Carlson, the recommendation does not mean the CDC is requiring a COVID-19 shot for children. It also does not mean that schools will have to require that students receive the shot before enrolling.
Instead, the routine vote means the CDC would be recommending people get the shots as a regular part of their vaccinations against common infectious diseases. The CDC does not have the authority to mandate vaccines; that decision is left up to states and local jurisdictions.
ACIP members said that since the coronavirus is not going away, it makes sense to recommend children get vaccinated.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the first COVID-19 vaccines in 2020, and they are now available for children as young as 6 months. Boosters are authorized for children as young as 5 years.
The primary vaccine against the original strain of the virus is approved by the FDA for use in adults, but not yet for children.
Still, ACIP members said the benefits outweighed the risks and recommended including the primary shot from Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax as well as the new bivalent booster.