The new bivalent COVID-19 booster is now approved for children as young as 5 years old, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Wednesday.
The bivalent booster shot includes one part that protects against the original strain of the COVID-19 coronavirus, and another part that targets the highly transmissible Omicron strain.
Moderna's bivalent vaccine is authorized for children down to 6 years old, while Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine is approved for children as young as 5.
In both cases, the booster shot should be given at least two months after children have either finished the primary series of two shots or have gotten a booster shot.
“Vaccination remains the most effective measure to prevent the severe consequences of COVID-19, including hospitalization and death,” Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in an FDA news release.
“While it has largely been the case that COVID-19 tends to be less severe in children than adults, as the various waves of COVID-19 have occurred, more children have gotten sick with the disease and have been hospitalized,” Marks added.
“Children may also experience long-term effects, even following initially mild disease. We encourage parents to consider primary vaccination for children and follow-up with an updated booster dose when eligible,” he said.
The FDA's authorization is based on immune response and safety data gathered during a clinical trial of the bivalent vaccine in adults, as well as data from trials of earlier COVID vaccines in children, the agency said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about COVID vaccines for children.
SOURCE: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, news release, Oct. 12, 2022