Breanna Reeves |
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authorized the use of the updated bivalent COVID-19 vaccines for children ages five through 11 years of age on Oct. 12.
The expansion of the vaccines to children in this age group follows the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of updated vaccines from Pfizer and from Moderna for children ages six through 17 years of age.
The bivalent vaccine formula contains components of the initial COVID-19 vaccine and components of the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variant strains in order to target the most contagious variant currently circulating. According to the CDC Nowcast, which monitors circulation variants in the U.S., Omicron BA.5 accounts for 68% of the circulating COVID variant.
“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. Vaccination remains the most effective measure to prevent the severe consequences of COVID-19, including hospitalization and death,” said Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) at the FDA.
Updated boosters were previously authorized for those 12 years and older last month. Now, everyone who is five years old and older who has had their primary series is eligible to get the updated booster after two months, following any other COVID vaccine or booster dose.
“As is true of the other COVID-19 vaccine and booster doses, the updated boosters were designed to protect individuals from the worst outcomes of COVID-19, including hospitalization and death,” California Health & Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly, and Director of the California Department of Public Health and State Public Health Officer Dr. Tomás J. Aragóns said in a joint statement.
“With the authorization of the updated booster to individuals as young as 5, we’re even closer to ensuring the whole family is protected as we head into the fall and winter when the spread of respiratory viruses is at its peak.”
With the authorization of the updated booster dose, the CDC no longer authorizes the use or the initial Pfizer booster dose (monovalent) for children ages five to 11.