The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized a COVID-19 booster shot for healthy 5- to 11-year-olds on Tuesday in the hopes an extra vaccine dose will enhance their protection as infections once again creep upward. The authorization now opens up the third shot of Pfizer’s vaccine to elementary-age kids as well once they’ve reached at least five months since their last dose.
Americans 12 and older were already supposed to get one booster dose for the best protection against the newest coronavirus variants, and some people, including those 50 and older, can choose a second booster. But there’s one last hurdle before parents can bring their kids in for another layer of vaccine protection.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) must decide whether to formally recommend the booster for this age group, and if so, how long they must wait for their second booster. The CDC’s scientific advisers are scheduled to meet on Thursday.
The FDA just authorized COVID-19 boosters for kids age 5-11 years. The CDC's recommendation is expected to follow shortly. Now would be a good time for parents to start looking at their calendars to find an appointment for their kids. https://t.co/hoQ7zy1Mxt
— Dr. Jorge A. Caballero stands with 🇺🇦 (@DataDrivenMD) May 17, 2022
Pfizer and its partner BioNTech currently make the only COVID-19 vaccine available for children of any age in the U.S. Those aged 5 to 11 receive one-third of the dose given to everyone 12 and older. In a small study, Pfizer found a booster revved up those kids’ levels of virus-fighting antibodies, including those able to fight the super-contagious omicron variant, the same kind of jump adults get from an extra shot.
Pfizer’s vaccine “is effective in helping to prevent the most severe consequences of COVID-19 in individuals 5 years of age and older,” said FDA vaccine chief Dr. Peter Marks. ”A booster dose can help provide continued protection against COVID-19 in this and older age groups.”