FDA approves COVID booster for children 5-11, CDC expected to share recommendations
With formal FDA approval, all children ages 5 to 11 can be offered a Pfizer vaccine.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine booster shot for children ages 5 to 11. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to share recommendations on which children will need the booster vaccine.
Vaccines are the best way to prevent serious illness in people of all ages, including children. Based on available data, our health care providers and pediatricians at Cook Children’s strongly recommend that parents get children vaccinated and booster shots as soon as they are eligible. Children ages 5 to 11 will now be eligible for the extra dose at least five months after their second shot.
This news comes after the first booster (third dose) of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approved for children ages 12 to 17.
We asked Nicholas Rister, M.D., of the Cook Children's Infectious Disease team to answer some of the top questions that parents and caregivers might have.
Why should my child get the COVID vaccine booster?
Children are at risk to get sick from COVID-19 disease, requiring hospitalization, and in rare cases, dying from the infection. More commonly they will get a mild infection and recover quickly, but vaccination can prevent more severe disease from developing. This is especially true for children with underlying risk factors including obesity, chronic lung disease including asthma, seizure disorders, and immunodeficiency.
How do we know it’s safe for children 5 to 11?
A pediatric drug trial involving 140 children aged 5 – 11 years was submitted to the FDA showing high efficacy and safety. Additionally, blood samples showed similar antibody development compared to data in older children and young adults. A large increase in antibodies that specifically target COVID-19 were observed in patients after a third dose of the vaccine, regardless of whether they had previously had COVID disease.
How long until the booster will be available for children 5 to 11?
With formal FDA approval, all children ages 5 to 11 can be offered a Pfizer vaccine. However, be sure to check with your vaccination site if they currently have the Pfizer vaccine available for these children.
If my child recently had COVID, how long should we wait to get the booster vaccine?
There has been little in the way of formal recommendations regarding when to get booster vaccination following COVID infection. This is largely because there is tremendous variability in different individual’s infection and how robust their antibody response is. It is generally thought that after COVID infection, there is a period of 3 to 6 months during which repeat infection, especially severe infection, is unlikely. However, there is no reason that you or your child needs to wait to get the booster. Whether a booster is given immediately after recovering from the illness or a few months later, the antibody response has been excellent.
What should parents do if they have more questions?
Talk to your pediatrician. They have your child’s medical history and are the best source of information for this topic. They have the latest information available and want to help you make an informed decision.
If your child is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, please contact your local pediatrician's office to schedule an appointment.
About Cook Children's
Cook Children’s Health Care System embraces an inspiring Promise – to improve the health of every child through the prevention and treatment of illness, disease and injury. Based in Fort Worth, Texas, we’re proud of our long and rich tradition of serving our community. Our not-for-profit organization is comprised of nine companies, including our Medical Center, Physician Network, Home Health company, Northeast Hospital, Pediatric Surgery Center, Health Plan, Health Services Inc., Child Study Center and Health Foundation. With more than 60 primary, specialty and urgent care locations throughout Texas, families can access our top-ranked specialty programs and network of services to meet the unique needs of their child. For 100 years, we’ve worked to improve the health of children from across our primary service area of Denton, Hood, Johnson, Parker, Tarrant and Wise counties. We combine the art of caring with leading technology and extraordinary collaboration to provide exceptional care for every child. This has earned Cook Children’s a strong, far-reaching reputation with patients traveling from around the country and the globe to receive life-saving pediatric care. For more information, visit cookchildrens.org.