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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday, September 11, 2023 approved updated Covid vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. The next day the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices approved the vaccines. 

On Friday, September 22, 2023, Indian Health Service (IHS) Director Roselyn Tso (Diné) released the following statement regarding the vaccine and its upcoming availabilty at IHS health facilities:

The Food and Drug Administration recently authorized and approved, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended for use, the updated Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, formulated to more closely target currently circulating variants and to provide better protection against serious consequences of COVID-19. Everyone 6 months and older, regardless of current vaccination status, should get an updated mRNA COVID-19 vaccine to protect against COVID-19 illness this fall and winter.

Updated mRNA COVID-19 vaccines will be distributed as soon as they are available. Vaccines will also be available through 2024 to uninsured or underinsured adults through the HHS Bridge Access Program at facilities that participate in the program, or through enrolled community partners. Pediatric mRNA COVID-19 vaccines will continue to be available to all American Indian and Alaska Native children via the Vaccines for Children program.

The IHS encourages our American Indian and Alaska Native patients to contact their local IHS, tribal, or urban Indian organization facility to receive an updated vaccine. You can also visit vaccines.gov to learn more.

Many IHS facilities are coordinating and synchronizing fall vaccine efforts, so that all vaccine needs can be met at the same visit. All vaccines, including for COVID-19, influenza, respiratory syncytial virus, and other routine vaccines, may be administered at the same visit.

Vaccination remains the best protection against COVID-19-related hospitalization and death. The virus that causes COVID-19 is always changing, and protection from COVID-19 vaccines declines over time. Receiving an updated mRNA COVID-19 vaccine can help provide protection against the variants currently responsible for most infections and hospitalizations.

The IHS remains committed to ensuring safe access to quality health care at our facilities and in the tribal communities that we serve.

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