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What We’re Reading: Pfizer Requests Updated Vaccine Authorization; Flu Shots Match Season’s Strains; AL Medicaid to Lift HCV Sobriety Mandate


Pfizer requested authorization for its bivalent COVID-19 vaccine for children aged younger than 5 years; most flu viruses from samples are similar to strains chosen by officials for this year's updated vaccines; Alabama Medicaid agreed to end a longstanding policy allowing refusal to pay for antiviral treatment for hepatitis C in patients with a substance use disorder.

Pfizer Asks FDA to Authorize Bivalent COVID-19 Vaccine for Young Children

Pfizer requested FDA authorization for its updated COVID-19 vaccine for children aged under 5 years as part of the primary vaccine series, The Associated Press reported. Children aged between 6 months and 4 years are currently supposed to receive 3 extra-small doses of the original Pfizer vaccine as their primary series. If authorized, a dose of Pfizer’s bivalent vaccine targeting Omicron would replace the third dose. According to CDC data, only 2% of children aged younger than 2 years, and around 4% of children aged between 2 and 4 have received their primary series since they were approved for this population in June.

CDC Deems Flu Shots “Very Good Match” to Current Strains

According to the CDC, most viruses from samples collected by Americans with the flu this season are similar to the strains chosen by officials for this year's updated vaccines, CBS News reported. Almost every sample tested by US public health laboratories so far have been from the Influenza A type of virus, with only 0.1% being from the Influenza B type. Further, all viruses tested so far have also been susceptible to the 4 antiviral treatments currently recommended and approved by the FDA for patients with the flu: peramivir, zanamivir, oseltamivir, and baloxavir.

AL Medicaid Agrees to Lift Hepatitis C Sobriety Mandate

The US Department of Justice secured a settlement agreement with Alabama’s Medicaid Agency under the Americans with Disabilities Act, ensuring Alabama Medicaid recipients with hepatitis C who also have a substance use disorder have equal access to medications to treat their hepatitis. According to a news release, Alabama agreed to end a longstanding sobriety restriction policy that allowed Alabama Medicaid to refuse to pay for antiviral treatment for hepatitis C if the patient had used drugs or alcohol during treatment or within 6 months prior. Under the new agreement, Alabama Medicaid will not delay, deny, or fail to pay for direct-acting antiviral medications for hepatitis C based on a patient’s use of drugs or alcohol, will work to notify Medicaid recipients and providers of these changes, and will remedy any instances where the prior policy is applied.

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