The Food and Drug Administration authorized COVID-19 booster shots Tuesday for children aged 5 to 11, making them the youngest age group to be eligible for extra shots.
Children in this age group will be eligible if they received their second dose at least five months ago.
Regulators cited the reach of the fast-moving variants in authorizing the boosters from Pfizer and BioNTech.
“While it has largely been the case that COVID-19 tends to be less severe in children than adults, the omicron wave has seen more kids getting sick with the disease and being hospitalized, and children may also experience longer-term effects, even following initially mild disease,” said FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf.
Officials repeatedly underscored the need for third or even fourth doses in adults when omicron swamped the country around Christmas.
The Pfizer vaccine is the only one available for Americans under age 18, though rival maker Moderna has applied for younger groups and — like Pfizer — is submitting data to get shots into those younger than 5, who remain ineligible for vaccination.
Dr. Califf said parents who haven’t gotten their children vaccinated at all should consider it, even as the FDA focuses on additional shots. The FDA authorized initial shots for the 5-to-11 age group in late October.
Roughly 8 million out of the 28 million children in that age group have received a primary series of shots, according to federal data.
“If your child is eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and has not yet received their primary series, getting them vaccinated can help protect them from the potentially severe consequences that can occur, such as hospitalization and death,” the commissioner said.
The FDA authorized Pfizer booster shots for those aged 12 to 15 on Jan. 3.
For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.