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UPDATE 2-US CDC says there's urgent need to increase respiratory vaccine coverage

(Adds vaccination details and background in paragraphs 5 to 7)

Dec 14 (Reuters) -

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday issued an alert urging healthcare providers to increase immunization coverage for influenza, COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

The health regulator said that low vaccination rates, coupled with ongoing increases in respiratory disease activity, could lead to more severe disease and increased healthcare capacity strain in the coming weeks.

Healthcare providers should recommend antiviral medications for influenza and COVID-19 for all eligible patients, especially older adults and people with certain underlying medical condition, the CDC said.

In the past four weeks, hospitalizations among all age groups increased by 200% for influenza, 51% for COVID-19, and 60% for RSV, according to CDC data.

There were 7.4 million fewer influenza vaccine doses administered to adults in pharmacies and physician offices compared with the 2022–2023 influenza season.

Nearly 16% of U.S. adults aged 60 years and higher were reported to have taken an RSV vaccine and 36% of U.S. adults aged 65 years and higher took a COVID-19 shot for the 2023-2024 period.

Pfizer has COVID and RSV vaccines that are approved in the United States, while Moderna and Novavax have updated COVID shots that are approved in the country. (Reporting by Christy Santhosh; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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