CDC updates routine vaccination schedule ahead of World Immunization Week

By Regence
April 24, 2023
World Immunization Week 2023

Vaccines protect us all — at every stage of life

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated its immunization schedules for children, adolescents and adults. The key changes to the schedules include the addition of COVID-19 vaccines and recommendations on booster doses; updated guidance on influenza (flu) and pneumococcal vaccines; and new vaccines for hepatitis B and for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR).

"Vaccines are a powerful tool to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, and staying current with recommended vaccinations is essential for maintaining individual and community health," said Dr. Donna Milavetz, chief medical officer at Regence. "When we prioritize our health and well-being by getting vaccinated, we create a safer and healthier environment for everyone."

The updated immunization schedule comes at an opportune time, as World Immunization Week—which takes place April 24 to 30—highlights the importance of vaccination in preventing deadly diseases. This year’s theme “The Big Catch-Up” underscores the CDC’s recent report about the two-year decline of vaccination rates among U.S. kindergartners.

According to CDC analysis only about 93% of kindergarteners enrolled in the 2021-22 school year got the required routine vaccines, including MMR; diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis (DTaP); and polio. That’s down from about 94% the previous school year and below the federal target of 95%.

"Routine childhood vaccinations are one of the most critical investments we can make in our children's future health," said Dr. Milavetz. "By providing protection against infectious diseases that can cause severe illness and hospitalization, we are giving our children a chance to grow up healthy and thrive. Vaccinations are also a cost-effective way to prevent disease outbreaks and reduce the burden on our health care system. So, if you're a parent or caregiver, please make sure to follow the recommended vaccine schedule for your child and talk to your health care provider if you have any questions or concerns."

Use your plan benefits to get vaccinated at no cost

Most Regence health plans cover 100% of the cost of vaccines, including for the flu, measles, pneumonia and childhood immunizations, as a preventive benefit. Regence members can check the complete preventive care list at Many pharmacies, including Costco, Walgreens, Safeway, Kroger and independents offer immunizations during store hours.

COVID-19 immunization updates for children and older adults

The updated routine vaccination schedule now advises children ages 6 months to 4 years to receive the bivalent Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, followed by a single booster dose at least two months after completing the primary vaccination series. However, there are two important things to keep in mind before your child is considered up to date:

  • Children ages 6 months to 4 years who completed their primary series with three doses of the original Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are recommended to receive an updated Pfizer-BioNTech bivalent booster.

  • Children ages 6 months to 4 years who completed their primary series with two doses of the original Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and a third dose of the updated Pfizer-BioNTech bivalent vaccine are not currently recommended to get an updated Pfizer-BioNTech booster.

People age 65+ eligible for spring bivalent booster

On Tues., April 18, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a second dose of bivalent booster vaccines for use in adults age 65 and older and individuals with weakened immune systems. The agency also announced that the bivalent versions of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines would replace the original versions as the primary COVID vaccine. As part of this decision, the FDA withdrew the emergency-use authorization for the older RNA vaccines that only targeted the original version of COVID-19.

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