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FDA clears COVID booster shot for healthy kids ages 5 to 11

Published:Tuesday | May 17, 2022 | 10:52 AM
A nurse holds a vial of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 (right) and a vial of the vaccine for adults, which has a different coloured label, at a vaccination station in Jackson, Mississippi, Tuesday, February 8, 2022. US regulators authorised a COVID-19 booster shot for healthy 5- to 11-year-olds on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, hoping an extra vaccine dose will enhance their protection as infections once again are on the rise. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

United States regulators on Tuesday authorised a COVID-19 booster shot for healthy 5- to 11-year-olds, hoping an extra vaccine dose will enhance their protection as infections once again creep upward.

Everyone 12 and older already was supposed to get one booster dose for the best protection against the newest coronavirus variants -- and some people, including those 50 and older, can choose a second booster.

The Food and Drug Administration's authorisation now opens a third shot of Pfizer's vaccine to elementary-age kids, too — at least five months after their last dose.

There is one more hurdle: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must decide whether to formally recommend the booster for this age group. The CDC's scientific advisers are scheduled to meet on Thursday.

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech make the only COVID-19 vaccine available for children of any age in the US.

Those ages 5 to 11 receive one-third of the dose given to everyone 12 and older.

Whether elementary-age children need a booster has been overshadowed by parents' outcry to vaccinate even younger tots, those under 5 -- the only group not yet eligible in the US.

Both Pfizer and rival Moderna have been studying their shots in the youngest children, and the FDA is expected to evaluate data from one or both companies sometime next month.

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

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