U.S. CDC advisers approve adding COVID shots to vaccine schedules

FILE PHOTO: A general view of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta
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(Reuters) - The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory committee on vaccines on Thursday approved adding COVID-19 vaccines to the agency's recommended immunization schedules for both children and adults.

The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted unanimously to add the vaccines to the schedules, which contain recommendations to physicians on which shots their patients should receive and when.

Several committee members stressed that they were not setting a requirement for anyone to receive the shots.

The CDC has recommended that Americans over 6 months of age should receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Some parents and doctors who are against COVID-19 vaccine mandates have expressed concerns during public comments at the meeting and on social media that adding the shots to the U.S. CDC schedule will encourage state regulators to require them for public school attendance.

"Adding the COVID-19 vaccine to the recommended childhood immunization schedule does not constitute a requirement that any child receive the vaccine," said Dr. Nirav Shah, an ACIP member and Director of Maine's Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Shah noted that there are currently vaccines on the schedule, such as seasonal flu shots, that are not required for school attendance in many places.

"The decision around school entrance for vaccines rests where it did before, which is with the state level, the county level and at the municipal level," Shah said.

The CDC stressed that the annual schedules reflect recommendations already approved by ACIP and do not reflect new policies.

On Wednesday, ACIP recommended that COVID-19 shots become part of the CDC's vaccine program for children, which provides many types of free inoculations to millions of kids each year.

(This story has been refiled to fix typographical error in headline and add U.S.).

(Reporting by Michael Erman in Maplewood, N.J. and Leroy Leo in Bengaluru; Editing by Bill Berkrot)