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CDC urges Pfizer booster for children ages 5 to 11

Kids ages 5 to 11 should get a booster dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, advisers to the U.S. government said.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention quickly adopted the panel’s recommendation, opening a third COVID-19 shot to healthy elementary-age kids — just like what is already recommended for everybody 12 and older.

The hope is that an extra shot will shore up protection for kids ages 5 to 11 as infections once again are on the rise, reports AP.

“Vaccination with a primary series among this age group has lagged behind other age groups leaving them vulnerable to serious illness,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, in a statement.

“We know that these vaccines are safe, and we must continue to increase the number of children who are protected,” she said.

Earlier this week, the Food and Drug Administration authorized Pfizer’s kid-sized booster, to be offered at least five months after the youngsters’ last shot.

The CDC takes the next step of recommending who actually needs vaccinations. Its advisers debated if all otherwise healthy 5- to 11-year-olds need an extra dose, especially since so many children were infected during the huge winter surge of the omicron variant.

But the U.S. now is averaging 100,000 new cases a day for the first time since February. And ultimately, the CDC’s advisers pointed to growing evidence from older kids and adults that two primary vaccinations plus a booster are providing the best protection against the newest coronavirus variants.

The booster question isn’t the hottest vaccine topic: Parents still are anxiously awaiting a chance to vaccinate kids under 5 — the only group not yet eligible in the U.S.

For the 5- to 11-year-olds, it’s not clear how much booster demand there will be. Only about 30% of that age group have had the initial two Pfizer doses since vaccinations opened to them in November.

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech currently make the only COVID-19 vaccine available for children of any age in the U.S. Those ages 5 to 11 receive a dose that’s one-third the amount given to everyone 12 and older.

 In a small study, Pfizer found a booster revved up those kids’ levels of virus-fighting antibodies — including those able to fight the super-contagious omicron variant — the same kind of jump adults get from an extra shot. AHN

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