Tatiana Perez, 11, receives a dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a vaccination center in San Jose, Costa Rica on January 11, 2022.
Mayela Lopez | Reuters
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday recommended the new Omicron boosters for children ages 5 and older, allowing pharmacists to start administering the shots soon.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky approved the footage just hours after it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Walensky made the quick decision without a meeting of the CDC’s independent panel of vaccine experts.
Children ages 5 to 11 are eligible for Pfizer’s Omicron vaccines, and children ages 6 to 17 are eligible for Moderna vaccines two months after they receive their primary series or a previous booster with the first-generation vaccines to have.
Pharmacies can start administering the shots as soon as they have doses. According to a company statement, Pfizer plans to ship up to 6 million booster doses for children within the next week.
Pfizers In September, new boosters were released for people aged 12 and over modern were approved for adults over the age of 18.
dr Peter Marks, chief of the FDA’s vaccines division, said children are at increased risk of exposure to the virus as they personally return to school and families return to their pre-pandemic lives.
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Although Covid is generally less severe in children than adults, children with the disease are being hospitalized, Marks said. Health officials are also concerned about the potential risk of a long Covid, even in children who have had mild illness from the virus, he said.
“We encourage parents to consider a basic vaccination for children and introduce an updated booster dose if needed,” Marks said.
The FDA hopes that the new boosters, targeting the dominant subvariant omicron BA.5, will offer significantly better protection against infection and disease than the first generation of Covid syringes.
The FDA approved the BA.5 shots for children without direct human data on their effectiveness. The agency cleared the boosters based on adult data from a similar shot targeting the omicron BA.1 subvariant. The agency also examined clinical trials in children who received the original vaccines as a booster.
The new boosters target omicron BA.5 as well as the original Covid strain that first emerged in Wuhan, China in 2019. The FDA hopes the vaccines will provide lasting protection even as the virus continues to evolve because they cover a wide range of mutations.
The first generation of Covid shots were developed in 2020 to target the original strain of Covid. They no longer provide meaningful protection against infection and mild illness because they mismatch the dominant omicron variant, which has mutated to evade the antibodies that prevent the virus from entering human cells.
So far, more than 11 million Americans ages 12 and older have received the new booster shots, according to CDC data.
It’s unclear how strong parental demand for the new shots will be. Almost 50% of people aged 5 and over received a booster shot with the first generation of vaccines.