Walensky signs off on COVID booster recommendation for children 5-11
Director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Rochelle Walensky formally signed off on recommending COVID-19 vaccine boosters for children between the ages of 5 and 11 on Thursday evening.
With this recommendation, children will now be able to get a third shot at least five months after completing their initial round of immunization against SARS-CoV-2.
Walensky’s decision came just hours after the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted in favor of recommending the boosters for younger children.
Following a five-hour meeting to discuss the available data on boosters for kids, 11 members of the 15-member advisory board voted to recommend a third vaccine dose for children in that age range.
In a statement, Walensky said, “Today, I endorsed ACIP’s vote to expand eligibility for COVID-19 vaccine booster doses. Children 5 through 11 should receive a booster dose at least 5 months after their primary series. Vaccination with a primary series among this age group has lagged behind other age groups leaving them vulnerable to serious illness.”
Along with the the recommendation for young children, Walensky announced a second recommendation for a fourth COVID vaccine dose for other groups.
“Those 50 and older and those who are 12 and older and immunocompromised should get a second booster dose,” said Walensky.
The CDC cited the recent rise in COVID-19 cases as well as hospitalizations among older Americans for their recommendation.
“While older Americans have the highest coverage of any age group of first booster doses, most older Americans received their last dose (either their primary series or their first booster dose) many months ago, leaving many who are vulnerable without the protection they may need to prevent severe disease, hospitalization, and death,” said the agency.
These developments come just days after the Food and Drug Administration authorized Pfizer’s booster doses for children in this age group. COVID-19 vaccines are still not authorized to be administered to children under the age of 5.
CDC data currently shows that less than a third of children ages 5-11 are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as vaccine hesitancy among parents persists.
The American Medical Association praised the ACIP’s vote in a statement.
“With the highly transmissible Omicron variant continuing to evolve, strengthened neutralizing antibodies from the booster dose provides an additional layer of protection,” said the organization. “The scientific evidence is clear that the vaccines against COVID-19 are safe and remain effective in preventing hospitalization and severe disease.”
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