Another age group is poised to be eligible for a COVID-19 booster. On Tuesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the use of the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 booster for children between 5 and 11.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has to provide authorization before distributors offer the shots.
Reuters reports the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices met on Thursday to discuss vaccine boosters. The agency’s director approved the authorization.
CDC data shows that 28.8% of people in this age group received both shots in the Pfizer series. This is the lowest vaccination rate of all age groups in the U.S.
In a statement, FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said that the agency’s decision to authorize a third booster for children is designed to provide extra protection against the virus in this age group.
CNN Health reports that Pfizer said 4,500 children between the ages of 5 through 11 years participated in a trial of the booster. The pharmaceutical giant claims that no new safety issues came up as part of the trial. In its request for emergency authorization, Pfizer said that a third dose of the vaccine increased antibodies against the Omicron variant by 36 times.
This move would leave children under five years as the only group ineligible for the booster. This group has not currently been authorized for the initial vaccine, either.
Moderna is also seeking authorization for a booster. Their request is for a second booster for those 18 and older. Only adults over 50 or immunocompromised individuals are eligible for the Moderna booster.