When Should Kids Get COVID-19 Boosters?

Children were always going to be the toughest group to vaccinate against COVID-19, so it’s no coincidence that they were the last group to receive authorization for the shot; manufacturers and government agencies want to be extra careful to find the right dosing and safety profile for the youngest Americans.

The same applies to boosters. These are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding boosters for children.

What children may be eligible to receive a booster?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommended that all Americans under five receive a Pfizer BioNTech booster on May 19. “The primary goal of vaccination is basically to keep everyone from getting very sick,” says Dr. Stan Spinner, chief medical officer and vice president of Texas Children’s Pediatrics and Texas Children’s Urgent Care. “Studies have shown that just like in adults, immunity from the primary series of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine did tend to wane. Giving children five to 11 years old a single booster dose increased their immune response to give them more hearty protection against getting infected, and very robust protection against more serious consequences of COVID-19 that can lead to hospitalization or death.”

The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine is currently available as an booster. After the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and CDC have reviewed the Moderna data regarding the safety and efficacy for children, this may change.

How often should children get a booster dose of ibuprofen?

The CDC recommends children get a booster shot five months after their two-shot primary COVID-19 vaccine series. Children 12 years and older should receive a booster dose equal to their primary series. Adults are given the same dose. Children aged 5-11 years will receive a dose that is one-third of that given to adults.

Children with weak immune systems should receive three doses of vaccine in their first series. This will give them the best possible immune response and reduce the risk of being hospitalized or dying due to COVID-19.

The CDC recommends booster shots for immunocompromised children—which would be a fourth dose—based on their age. Three months following their initial three-dose series, children aged five-17 years with weak immune systems need to receive a booster dose. Immunocompromised children ages 12 and older should also get boosted a second time—a fifth dose—four months after the first booster dose to keep their immune responses as active as possible.

What are the effectiveness of vaccines for children and booster doses?

The COVID-19 vaccination is as effective as a booster when combined with the vaccine. It protects children from some of the most serious side effects, such COVID-19. “The immune response seen in children is fairly comparable to that seen in adolescents and adults,” says Spinner.

What are the safety of vaccines and boosters for children?

Pfizer BioNTech vaccines are safe according to studies. Research has found that a very small number of older children have experienced multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), a rare disorder in which the body’s immune system generates an aggressive inflammatory response, after getting vaccinated, and MIS-C is currently listed as a potential adverse event in the CDC’s vaccine safety monitoring system. But it’s not clear whether the vaccine is associated with the condition, or whether the children developing it have also been infected with the virus, since SARS-CoV-2 itself is known to be linked to MIS-C.

A small percentage of vaccine-related inflammations of the heart tissues has been reported, mostly among adolescents. Based on evidence, the CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccine for children.

Are my children better off waiting until the fall in order to have their immunity boosted before going to school?

Doctors urge parents to have their children immunized and boostered as quickly as possible, as COVID-19 cases are on the rise in many parts of the country. “When there is enough virus in the community—which there is now—and the risk of getting infected becomes higher—which it is now—delaying vaccination makes no sense,” says Spinner. “Kids are out and about, fewer people are wearing masks, kids are going to camps and play groups, so they are going to get exposed during the summer. Why wait to immunize your child?”

Children will need to keep receiving boosters each month.

The CDC has public-health specialists reviewing data in order to address this question for both children and adults. All COVID-19-authorized vaccines have been created using original SARS CoV-2. The vaccines are still effective at generating immune responses against the various variants of the virus. However, vaccine developers and health professionals have created new vaccines not yet approved for use against the most current variants of Omicron. These shots are being studied to see if they might provide greater, more lasting protection against severe disease.

Are babies and toddlers able to get vaccines or boosters yet?

No. No COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized for the youngest children—those ages six months to four years—but the FDA’s independent panel of experts will be reviewing the safety and efficacy data on immunizing these children on June 14-15, 2022.

Pfizer BioNTech (for Pfizer) as well as Moderna (for Moderna), have submitted data on safety and effectiveness of vaccines for children aged six months to six (for Pfizer). Moderna’s data show that two doses of its vaccine, at a quarter of the dose used for adults, help these children generate similar levels of virus-blocking antibodies as adults. Except for three doses, Pfizer BioNTech reported similar results with its vaccine. It used a third less than the child dosage of 5-11 years.

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