Coronavirus: CDC recommends new booster for children as young as 5 after FDA OKs shots

Officials with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday updated COVID-19 vaccine guidance to recommend new booster vaccines for children as young as 5, hours after the Food and Drug Administration authorized emergency use of updated boosters.

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The bivalent vaccines target the original strain of coronavirus and the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of the omicron virus. The subvariants accounted for more than 80% of the COVID-19 cases seen in the U.S. from the week beginning Oct. 2, according to the CDC.

Officials with the FDA authorized the booster developed by Moderna for children as young as 6 and authorized the booster developed by Pfizer and BioNTech for children as young as 5. Both are authorized to be administered at least two months following the completion of a primary or booster vaccination, according to officials.

On Wednesday afternoon, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky signed off on recommending the shots.

Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in a statement that though children tend to see less severe cases of COVID-19 than adults, more have been sickened and hospitalized by the virus “as the various waves of COVID-19 have occurred.”

“Since children have gone back to school in person and people are resuming pre-pandemic behaviors and activities, there is the potential for increased risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19,” he said. “Children may also experience long-term effects, even following initially mild disease.”

Marks encouraged parents to consider vaccinating their children and emphasized that “vaccination remains the most effective measure to prevent the severe consequences of COVID-19, including hospitalization and death.”

As of last week, 30.5 million Americans under the age of 18 have gotten at least one dose of any of the available COVID-19 vaccines, according to the CDC. About 25 million children have been fully vaccinated, including nearly 6 million who have gotten their first booster dose, CDC data shows.

Last month, officials authorized the emergency use of reformulated bivalent COVID-19 vaccines developed by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech for people as young as 12.

Nearly 80% of the total U.S. population has gotten at least COVID-19 vaccine shot, according to the CDC. As of last week, 68% of Americans have been fully vaccinated, and nearly 49% of those who have been fully vaccinated have gotten at least one booster shot, CDC data shows.

Since the start of the pandemic, officials have confirmed more than 96.7 million COVID-19 infections and reported over 1 million deaths nationwide, according to numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University. More than 622.7 million COVID-19 cases have been reported worldwide, resulting in 6.5 million deaths, according to the university.