The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday authorized Covid-19 vaccine boosters for children who are five years old and above.
The Moderna vaccine has been approved for children six years and older, while children as young as five can get the Pfizer vaccine.
The update comes nearly a year after the Center for Disease Control recommended the first round of vaccines for children five to 11 years old.
Both vaccines have been approved in their bivalent form, and following today’s announcement, the monovalent version of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is no longer qualified for a booster dose. A monovalent vaccine has a small portion of the original mRNA strain of the virus, which is often referred to as the “ancestral strain”; the bivalent vaccine contains portions of the newer version of the virus, such as the BA.4 and BA.5, in addition to the ancestral strain.
The vaccine for children under five years old was approved a little over a year after they were approved for adults in 2021.
Since its rollout, there has been lukewarm response about vaccines for children under the age of five. Many parents expressed concerns regarding the safety of the vaccines and its effectiveness when the vaccine initially came out.
In a statement, Dr Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research at the FDA, highlighted the importance of the booster at this time given that children are returning to school and many are returning to pre-pandemic lifestyle, and there remains an “potential for increased risk” in exposure.
“While it has largely been the case that Covid-19 tends to be less severe in children than adults, as the various waves of Covid-19 have occurred, more children have gotten sick with the disease and have been hospitalized,” he said, according to ABC News. “Children may also experience long-term effects, even following initially mild disease.”