Jan 18, 2022 - Health

WHO: No evidence that healthy children, teens need boosters

World Health Organization (WHO) Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan
WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini-Pool/AFP via Getty Images

There's no evidence that healthy children and adolescents need COVID-19 boosters shots, World Health Organization chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said at a press briefing Tuesday.

Why it matters: Swaminathan said a WHO advisory group will gather this week to discuss how nations should distribute booster shots. The organization has long called for wealthy countries with large vaccine supplies to forgo booster shots as a global vaccine disparity persists.

  • "[P]utting all of this together, the aim is to protect the most vulnerable, to protect those at highest risk of severe disease and dying," Swaminathan said, singling out the elderly, immunocompromised and health care workers.
  • "There is no evidence right now that healthy children or healthy adolescents need boosters," Swaminathan said. "No evidence at all."

Worth noting: Swaminathan said many of the vaccines have shown a reduction in vaccine immunity against the Omicron variant, but that resulting breakthrough infections by and large do not result in severe illness.

  • Some evidence suggests that vaccine protection against severe illness is also slightly reduced, but more studies are needed in this area, she added.

The Food and Drug Administration last month approved booster shots for teens aged 16 and 17.

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