As variants spread, CMS sends reminder that COVID-19 vaccines … – Healthcare Finance News

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is reminding insurers that coverage is available without cost-sharing for the updated COVID-19 vaccines. Regardless of what coverage, or lack of coverage they have, COVID-19 vaccines are free to anyone who wants one, for both children and adults, CMS said.
CMS sent out the reminder following actions taken by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) authorizing the updated vaccines for children six months through five years. Children ages six months through five years who previously completed a Moderna primary series are eligible to receive a Moderna bivalent updated vaccine two months after their final primary series dose, CMS said.
Children ages six months through four years who are currently completing a Pfizer primary series will receive a Pfizer bivalent vaccine as their third primary dose.
NBC Boston has reported that three omicron subvariants are now causing 90% of infections in New England. The XBB variant, which accounted for only 11% of COVID cases in the region just two weeks ago, now makes up over half of all cases (52.6%), the report said. Nationwide, it accounts for 18% of cases.
XBB is particularly troubling because it has shown a greater resistance to immunity. 
Updated COVID-19 vaccines are formulated to protect against some of the more recently circulating viruses. CMS said the vaccines are critical to providing ongoing protection as immunity wanes and the virus continues to mutate.
Hospital admissions due to COVID-19 remain stable, or have an uncertain trend, according to the CDC, with 2,200 to 12,600 new confirmed admissions projected to be reported in January 2023. A CDC graph shows the number of admissions due to the coronavirus increasing.
China hospitals are overwhelmed amid a wave of infections, according to The Wall Street Journal. The United States has imposed COVID-19 testing for visitors from China.
In the United States, 80.8% of the population has had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 69% are considered fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data.
CMS said it is continuing to explore ways to ensure maximum access to COVID-19 vaccinations. Staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations is the best defense against severe illness, hospitalization and death from the virus, the agency said.
Twitter: @SusanJMorse
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