A woman and her 6-year-old daughter hold each other while the girl gets a shot. Both are wearing masks.

FDA Expands Eligibility for Omicron Booster Vaccines to Children Ages 5-11

A woman and her 6-year-old daughter hold each other while the girl gets a shot. Both are wearing masks.

Melody Figueroa, 6, holds her mother Judy Chow, as she get her first COVID-19 vaccine at Katherine R. Smith Elementary School, in San Jose on Nov. 4, 2021. (Harika Maddala / Bay City News)

By Eli Walsh
Bay City News Foundation

Children ages 5-11 are now eligible for the COVID-19 booster vaccine targeting strains of the omicron variant after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration expanded the vaccine’s authorization Wednesday.

The FDA expanded its emergency use authorization for the bivalent Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, making the former available to children ages 6 and up and the latter available to kids ages 5 and up.

Both vaccines, which target the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants while still protecting against the original COVID virus strain as well, will be available to those who completed their initial vaccination series at least two months prior.

>>>Read: Kids Need COVID-19 Vaccine Too, Says Health Official

“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 Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “Vaccination remains the most effective measure to prevent the severe consequences of COVID-19, including hospitalization and death.”

>>>Read: The New and Improved COVID-19 Booster Shot Is Here

The omicron-specific Moderna booster has been available to adults since early September, while the Pfizer booster has been available to everyone ages 12 and up since then.

The original Moderna and Pfizer COVID vaccines remain available to everyone ages 6 months and up.

“We encourage parents to consider primary vaccination for children and follow-up with an updated booster dose when eligible,” Marks said.

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