June 19, 2024


It's the Technology

Kids 5-11 Approved For COVID-19 Boosters


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(Photo: Jesse Paul/Unsplash)
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has officially put its stamp of approval on COVID-19 vaccination booster doses for children ages 5 through 11. 

In a release published Tuesday, the organization authorized booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children who received their second dose of the primary vaccine at least five months prior. Parents have been able to have their kids vaccinated since October. At that time the FDA approved the initial primary shots for the same age group, but this is the first authorization of a childrens’ booster.

The approval comes as a relief for many parents who have sent their kids back to in-person school in recent months, either by choice or out of a lack of other options. Though children overall have been less susceptible to contracting COVID-19 since the pandemic began, the new(ish) omicron variants are highly transmissible, increasing everyone’s risk of infection—including children. Boosters have been proven to reduce the odds of experiencing severe symptoms among those who have already received their primary vaccinations, especially if those occurred a long time ago.

(Photo: Ed Us/Unsplash)

Prior to issuing its authorization, the FDA conducted a study involving 400 children who’d each received their primary vaccines at least five months prior. Though some children experienced side effects similar to those experienced by adults (fever, chills, swelling at the injection site, and so on) the booster dose was found to be safe long-term. The FDA also completed a second study proving the booster increased vaccine effectiveness in children.

Of course, getting a booster is step two (or maybe three) of the vaccination process, and most children aren’t anywhere near that step yet. Less than a third of American children ages five through 11 have received primary vaccines so far, compared with about two thirds of Americans over the age of 12. 

“The omicron wave has seen more kids getting sick with the disease and being hospitalized, and children may also experience longer term effects, even following initially mild disease,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert M. Califf in the organization’s release. “If your child is eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and has not yet received their primary series, getting them vaccinated can help protect them from the potentially severe consequences that can occur, such as hospitalization and death.”

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