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CDC adds COVID-19 shots to recommended vaccination schedule; local doctors weigh in

Reisa Lancaster, Dean Wilson, Courtland Wilson
Posted at 8:37 AM, Mar 20, 2023

TAMPA — There’s been a change to the CDC’s schedule of routinely recommended vaccines — COVID-19 shots are now part of it.

“We were all anticipating that that was going to happen based on the past couple of months of recommendations,” said Dr. Lisa Cronin, pediatrician for North Pinellas Children’s Medical Center.

The immunization schedules include current vaccine recommendations for children and adults.

“One of the things that the CDC does is every year, they update the list of all of the vaccines that are recommended by the CDC,” said Dr. David Berger, pediatrician for Wholistic Pediatrics and Family Care.

This year, primary doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, and boosters for people who are eligible, were incorporated into both schedules for kids and adults.

“Basically what that is saying is that now we have enough long-term data and safety data that says that this is a vaccine that’s safe, that is effective, and that helps prevent community spread of a disease when we’re having a spike,” said Cronin.

“There was nothing changed in terms of what the actual recommendations in terms of the original dosings and the booster dosings and who are the high-risk people, it’s all the same,” said Berger.

Experts said this now means the COVID-19 vaccine will be presented as any other routine vaccine.

The latest data from the CDC show only 16.4% of people who are eligible in the U.S. received the updated booster dose.

Many health officials hope adding the shot to the routine vaccine schedule will help normalize the vaccine so that everyone ages six months and older stay up to date.

“It’s something that pediatricians in our community have been recommending for many months anyway but this is just another level of it being official,” said Cronin.

However, just because these shots are now on the vaccine schedule, it does not mean they’re mandatory for workplaces or schools.

“Just by being on the list alone doesn’t change anything else anything at all regarding school requirements,” said Berger.

School entry vaccination requirements are not determined by the CDC but instead decided by state and local jurisdictions.