COVID-19 vaccine authorized and recommended for children ages 5-11

On Wednesday, January 5, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced its recommendation to expand eligibility of booster shots to those 12 to 15 years old. They recommend that adolescents age 12 to 17 years old should receive a Pfizer-BioNTech booster five months after their initial Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination series. Before this latest recommendation, only people 16 and older were able to get a booster dose, unless they have a compromised immune system. At this time, the only COVID-19 vaccine authorized and recommended for adolescents aged 12-17 is the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The CDC also advised that all people 12 and older may now receive a Pfizer booster five months following their initial primary series of doses, instead of waiting six months A Pfizer-BioNTech primary series is two doses for most people, three doses for immunocompromised people. However, the booster interval recommendation for people who received the J&J vaccine (two months) or the Moderna vaccine (six months), remains unchanged.

Additional doses for immunocompromised children

The CDC recommended that moderately to severely immunocompromised children 5–11 years old may receive an additional dose of vaccine 28 days after their second dose. Only the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is approved for these children at this time. Booster doses are not yet recommended for anyone under age 12 years.

These recommendations came as a result of data from Israel that found no new concerns when more than 40,000 children ages 12 to 15 got a Pfizer booster five months after their second dose. There were only two cases of myocarditis, one in an adolescent with a previous episode of the condition, and both recovered quickly. Both the FDA and CDC also relied on data from Israel in shortening the interval between the second and third Pfizer shots for adolescents and adults from six months to five months.

“It is critical that we protect our children and teens from COVID-19 infection and the complications of severe disease,” said CDC Director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky. “We now recommend that all adolescents aged 12-17 years should receive a booster shot five months after their primary series. This booster dose will provide optimized protection against COVID-19 and the Omicron variant. I encourage all parents to keep their children up to date with CDC’s COVID-19 vaccine recommendations.”