Food and Drug Administration regulators this week cleared doses of the updated COVID-19 vaccines for children younger than age 5.
The decision aims to better protect the littlest kids from severe COVID-19 at a time when children’s hospitals already are packed with kids suffering from a variety of respiratory illnesses.
Omicron-targeted booster shots made by Moderna and Pfizer already were open to everyone 5 and older.
The FDA now has cleared their use in children starting at age 6 months — but just who is eligible depends on what vaccinations they’ve already had, and which kind, the Associated Press reported. Few youngsters have gotten the full primary series since shots for the littlest kids began in June.
The FDA decided that:
- Children under age 6 who’ve already gotten two original doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine can get a single booster of Moderna’s updated formula if it’s been at least two months since their last shot.
- Pfizer’s vaccine requires three initial doses for tots under age 5 — and those who haven’t finished that vaccination series will get the original formula for the first two shots and the omicron-targeted version for their third shot.
- Children under 5 who already got all three Pfizer doses aren’t yet eligible for an updated booster. Data expected next month should help the FDA determine if and when those tots need the omicron-targeted booster.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to sign off soon, the final step for shots to begin.
“Vaccines remain the best defense against the most devastating consequences of disease caused by the currently circulating omicron variant,” FDA vaccine chief Dr. Peter Marks said in a statement.