Updated Oct 12, 2022 - Health

CDC, FDA authorize COVID-19 Omicron booster shots for kids

A health worker prepares a dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

A health worker prepares a dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: Md Rafayat Haque Khan/Eyepix Group/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday recommended a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot for children as young as 5, aimed at the Omicron variant, hours after the Food and Drug Administration authorized the shot.

The big picture: The announcement comes as the White House continues to monitor a rise in the COVID-19 subvariants emerging and evolving throughout the world.

  • CDC Director Rochelle Walensky signed off on a decision memo expanding the use of the shots without waiting for a meeting of the CDC’s advisory committee, CNBC reports.
  • With approval from the CDC and the FDA, pharmacies can now begin administering the shots as soon as they've received the dose shipments.

Details: The FDA’s emergency use authorizations apply to the Moderna and Pfizer bivalent vaccines.

  • The Moderna shot is approved for children as young as 6 years old, and the Pfizer dose is approved for children as young as 5.
  • The FDA said the booster shot should be taken "at least two months following completion of primary or booster vaccination."
  • People who receive the Omicron booster “may experience similar side effects” as earlier booster doses, the FDA said.

What they’re saying: “Since children have gone back to school in person and people are resuming pre-pandemic behaviors and activities, there is the potential for increased risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19," said Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, in a statement.

  • “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."
  • "Children may also experience long-term effects, even following initially mild disease," Marks said. "We encourage parents to consider primary vaccination for children and follow-up with an updated booster dose when eligible.”

Editor's note: This story was updated with additional information.

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