The updated bivalent COVID-19 boosters are now approved for use in children as young as 6 months of age, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced today.
Children can receive either a Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech bivalent booster shot, although the rules differ depending on their age and what type of vaccine they got as their primary series, the FDA said.
Kids 6 months to 5 years who received the original Moderna vaccine can receive the Moderna booster at least two months after completing their first round of shots.
Children 5 and older also can receive the Pfizer-BioNTech booster at least two months after they've completed their first series of COVID shots.
The new Pfizer-BioNTech booster will replace the third dose of the primary series of shots for that vaccine for children 6 months through 4 years of age, the FDA said.
But children 4 and younger who already completed the three-dose Pfizer-BioNTech primary series will not be eligible for the bivalent booster at this time, the agency said. The FDA will decide on the updated booster for this group of kids after January, when fresh data is expected.
The updated boosters contain two components to protect against both the original strain of COVID and widely circulating Omicron variants.
"More children now have the opportunity to update their protection against COVID-19 with a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine, and we encourage parents and caregivers of those eligible to consider doing so -- especially as we head into the holidays and winter months where more time will be spent indoors," FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf said in an agency news release.
"As this virus has changed, and immunity from previous COVID-19 vaccination wanes, the more people who keep up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations, the more benefit there will be for individuals, families and public health by helping prevent severe illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths," he added.
The FDA based its decision on clinical trials showing that the boosters are safe and effective in young children, the agency said.
"Parents and caregivers can be assured that the FDA has taken a great deal of care in our review, and we encourage parents of children of any age who are eligible for primary vaccination or a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine booster dose to consider seeking vaccination now as it can potentially help protect them from COVID-19 during a time when cases are increasing," said Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.
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, Dec. 8, 2022