CDC: Children 5-11 Should Get a Booster

Rise in coronavirus cases prompts advisers' decision
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 19, 2022 6:20 PM CDT
Updated May 19, 2022 6:55 PM CDT
CDC Panel Backs Booster for Ages 5-11
A vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children 5 to 12 years old sits ready for use at a vaccination site in Fort Worth, Texas, in November.   (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

Update: This file has been updated throughout with the CDC's decision.
Children ages 5 to 11 should get a booster dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control announced Thursday. An advisory panel had made the recommendation earlier in the day. The move opens 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 those ages 5 to 11 as infections once again are on the rise, the AP reports. Earlier this week, the Food and Drug Administration authorized Pfizer's kid-size booster, to be offered at least five months after the youngsters' last shot.

"Vaccination with a primary series among this age group has lagged behind other age groups, leaving them vulnerable to serious illness," Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC's director, said in a statement making the announcement. "We know that these vaccines are safe, and we must continue to increase the number of children who are protected." It's not clear how much booster demand there will be. Only about 30% of the 5-11 age group have had the initial two Pfizer doses since vaccinations opened to them in November. Thursday's decision also means that 5- to 11-year-olds with severely weakened immune systems, who are supposed to get three initial shots, would be eligible for a fourth dose.

The CDC advisers' vote was 11-1, with one member abstaining, per the Washington Post. They debated whether the advice should say children "may" have a booster or "should" get one; most preferred "should." The panel was persuaded to act by the rise in infections. The nation is averaging 100,000 new cases a day for the first time since February. And ultimately, the 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. "This always perhaps should have been a three-dose vaccine," said Dr. Grace Lee of Stanford University, who chairs the CDC's advisory panel.

(More coronavirus vaccine stories.)

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