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FDA authorizes Pfizer COVID-19 booster for 5 to 11 year olds


The FDA has authorized Pfizer COVID-19 boosters for 5 to 11 year olds.

Before they become available, the CDC must give the green light. CDC advisers are set to meet later this week.

If approved, boosters would be available to 5 to 11 year olds who got fully vaccinated at least five months ago.

The CDC recommends a first booster for everyone aged 12 and up, due to waning protection from initial vaccines and the boosters’ efficacy against variants like omicron.

Dr. Aaron Milstone, a professor of pediatric infectious disease at Johns Hopkins, said the boosters for children will also increase their antibody levels.

“There's absolutely no reason not to take your kid out and get them boosted,” he said.

Initial demand for the boosters may not be very high, given that CDC data shows only 28 percent of 5 to 11 year olds are fully vaccinated, though vaccines have been available to that age group since November.

Milstone said it’s true that children are less likely than adults to get severe illness or die from COVID. But he noted it’s still possible, and that those who survive can also develop long COVID. Vaccines and boosters, he said, will reduce the likelihood of these outcomes.

“Even though the risk of dying is low, I can feel reassured that my kid won’t die from COVID,” he said. “To me, that's important as a parent.”

Sarah Y. Kim is WYPR’s health and housing reporter. Kim is WYPR's Report for America corps member, and Anthony Brandon Fellow. Kim joined WYPR as a 2020-2021 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. Now in her second year as an RFA corps member, Kim is based in Baltimore City.