(KRON) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday that it is recommending an updated COVID-19 vaccine for everyone except newborns this fall.

Federal health officials wrote on Tuesday, “CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older get an updated COVID-19 vaccine to protect against the potentially serious outcomes of COVID-19 illness this fall and winter.”

Updated COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna will be available this week.

The CDC explained why it is recommending the updated vaccine. “Vaccination remains the best protection against COVID-19-related hospitalization and death. Vaccination also reduces your chance of suffering the effects of Long COVID, which can develop during or following acute infection and last for an extended duration,” the CDC wrote.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is always changing, and protection from vaccines declines over time. Receiving an updated vaccine restores and enhances protections against variants, federal health officials said.

Last season, people who received a 2022-2023 COVID-19 vaccine saw greater protection against illness and hospitalization than those who did not receive a 2022-2023 vaccine, according to health officials. ”To date, hundreds of millions of people have safely received a COVID-19 vaccine under the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history,” the CDC wrote.

Most health insurance plans will cover the vaccine at no cost.

This is the first fall and winter virus season where vaccines are available for the three viruses responsible for most hospitalizations: COVID-19, RSV, and flu.    

“We have more tools than ever to prevent the worst outcomes from COVID-19,” said CDC Director Mandy Cohen, M.D.

California Department of Public Health Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Tomás Aragón said, “As we enter the winter season, it is crucial that all individuals remain up to date with vaccinations when they’re eligible.”

Getting vaccinated may also minimize your symptoms if you do become infected so you can return to your daily activities more quickly, according to CDPH.

Anyone who is five years of age and older, regardless of previous vaccination, is eligible to receive a single dose of the updated vaccine, as long as it’s been at least two months since the last dose, CDPH wrote.

Vaccine recommendations for younger children depend on the number of doses received previously, California public health officials said. Unvaccinated babies and younger children — 6 months through 4 years old — are eligible to receive three doses of the updated Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, or two doses of the updated Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

President Joe Biden said Tuesday’s announcement marked an important milestone.

“Following an independent scientific review, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have now authorized, approved, and recommended everyone 6 months and older get an updated COVID-19 vaccine to protect against serious illness this fall and winter. Today’s announcement also means that we now have immunizations for all three major seasonal respiratory viruses – COVID-19, flu, and RSV,” Biden wrote in a statement.

Vaccination remains the most important protection in avoiding hospitalization, long-term health complications, and death caused by COVID, President Biden said.

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