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FDA approves booster vaccine for children ages 5-11

(The Hill) — The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday approved a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, expanding the booster dose to the youngest age group to date.

Experts have stressed the importance of booster shots for older age groups as a key means of increasing protection given the waning immunity from initial vaccinations over time, as well as the increased evasiveness of the Omicron variant currently in circulation.

Now, kids ages 5-11 can get boosters for the first time.

Data released by Pfizer last month showed a 36-fold increase in neutralizing antibodies against the Omicron variant compared to two doses.

“These data reinforce the potential role of a third dose of the vaccine in maintaining a high level of protection against the virus in this age group,” Pfizer said, adding, “The vaccine was well tolerated with no new safety signals observed.”

Still, uptake for even the first two vaccinations for children aged 5 to 11 has been declining, suggesting that many parents will not receive booster shots for their children either.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 28 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 11 got their first two shots.

While COVID-19 is less severe on average in children, there can still be some severe cases and even deaths.

According to data from the American Academy of Pediatrics, between 0.1 and 1.5 percent of COVID-19 cases in children resulted in hospitalizations.

There is still no vaccine approved for children under the age of 5, leaving some parents frustrated.

It’s possible the move could happen in June, since that’s when FDA advisory committees will meet to review the vaccine for the youngest children.

The FDA has pointed to the low rates of vaccination among older children to show they need to be thorough in their review for the youngest age group and try to inspire confidence in vaccines.

“While it was broadly true that COVID-19 tended to be less severe in children than adults, the Omicron surge has resulted in more children catching the disease and being hospitalized, and children may also have longer-term effects, even after they initially appear mild disease,” said FDA Commissioner Robert Califf.

“Vaccination remains the most effective and safe way to prevent COVID-19 and its serious consequences,” he added.

The booster dose should be given at least five months after the initial dose.

https://www.cbs17.com/community/health/coronavirus/fda-authorizes-booster-for-children-aged-5-11/ FDA approves booster vaccine for children ages 5-11

DUSTIN JONES

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