On Tuesday, May 17, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of a booster shot of Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11, making everyone over the age of 5 eligible for a third shot.
Before the shots may be given out, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) must approve them.
In the United States, children under the age of five are not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
In the face of data showing that vaccine protection wanes over time, the US government has been pushing for eligible Americans to obtain boosters, and it just allowed a second shot for adults 50 and older. A first booster dosage was given to about 102.3 million individuals.
According to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, the new authorization is intended to give continuing protection against COVID-19 to children aged 5 to 11.
It’s uncertain how many parents will opt for a third dose for their children in that age range. According to CDC data, just 28.8% of children aged 5 to 11 are completely immunized. Out of all the categories, this has the lowest immunization coverage.
Dr. Paul Offit, a pediatric infectious diseases expert at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said booster shots in the age group would have a limited impact on the pandemic, even with evidence that the additional shots will protect against the mild illness for three to six months.
“What is the goal of this vaccine? Are we trying to protect against all symptomatic infections for a limited period of time? Or are we trying to protect against serious illness, in which case all the evidence is that we are preventing serious illness,” with the two-dose vaccine regimen, Offit said.
The CDC has scheduled a meeting of outside advisers to discuss vaccine boosters on Thursday. The agency’s director has the final say on the administration of vaccines.