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What you need to know

  • Pfizer asked the FDA to authorize COVID-19 boosters for kids ages 5 to 11 in late April.
  • The next step of the process is for the FDA’s outside advisory committee to review the data and make a recommendation.
  • Only 28 percent of kids ages 5 to 11 are fully vaccinated with two mRNA doses.

As COVID-19 cases rise across the U.S., kids remain unprotected. Only 28 percent of kids ages 5 to 11 are fully vaccinated. Last month, Pfizer announced that its booster shot is effective for this age group and asked the FDA to authorize the shot. Here’s what you need to know about COVID-19 boosters for kids ages 5 to 11.

When will COVID-19 boosters for kids ages 5 to 11 become available?

Pfizer submitted its clinical trial data and asked the FDA to authorize booster shots for this age group on April 26. The next step is for the FDA’s outside advisory committee to review the data and make a recommendation. It is still unclear when this is scheduled to happen. After the advisory committee’s meeting, the booster shot will need to receive authorization from the FDA and guidance from the CDC. 

How effective is Pfizer’s booster for kids ages 5 to 11?

Pfizer announced that its booster for kids ages 5 to 11 produced a strong immune response, leading to a sixfold increase in antibodies against the original strain of Omicron. The booster will be significant in helping to protect kids against Omicron infection. Data from earlier this year showed that two Pfizer doses offered almost no protection against Omicron infection in kids ages 5 to 11 but continued to protect against serious illness. However, it’s unclear how long this extra immunity lasts. In adults, antibodies generated from a Pfizer booster wane after about four months.

How can we protect kids with cases rising again?

First of all, kids ages 5 to 11 should get their two vaccine doses if they haven’t already. Although two doses lack effectiveness against infection, they do provide strong protection against severe disease that can result in hospitalization. Currently only 28 percent of kids ages 5 to 11 are fully vaccinated. 

As we await vaccines for kids under 5 and boosters for kids ages 5 to 11, wearing masks in public indoor settings, including schools, will help reduce the chance of infection. Getting tested promptly following exposure or symptoms, and before and after gatherings, will also help limit the virus’s spread. As the weather warms, prioritize air ventilation or outdoor gatherings to reduce the risk of transmission.