Omicron Bivalent Booster for Kids Now Authorized by FDA

Currently, children five and older can receive a bivalent booster shot that combats COVID-19 Omicron variants. After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the shots from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech for children as young as five, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday permitted access.

These shots contain an mRNA component of the original SARS-CoV-2 strain plus an mRNA component to help protect against Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5, which are currently widely circulating in the U.S., just like the adult version of the bivalent booster.

According to the FDA, the mRNA in these vaccines is a particular genetic component that instructs body cells to produce the spike protein of the original virus strain as well as the BA.4 and BA.5 variants of Omicron. It’s important to note that BA.4 and BA.5’s spike proteins are identical.

The monovalent Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, which was once authorized for use as a booster for children between the ages of five and 11, has been replaced, the FDA notes. For children six months of age and older, that vaccine as well as the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are still permitted to be used as main vaccines.

According to Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research at the FDA, “While it has generally been the case that COVID-19 tends to be less severe in children than adults, more children have fallen sick with the disease and have been hospitalized.” “Children may also suffer long-term consequences from initially mild illnesses. We urge parents to explore primary vaccination for kids and, if appropriate, to follow up with an updated booster dose.

Bivalent booster side effects of children.

The CDC states that side effects from the booster dose may be comparable to those from the initial vaccine series. The most typical side effects are as follows:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Pain at the injection site

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Who can receive the bivalent booster for kids?

Children aged five and older are now advised to use the bivalent booster. Not everyone in this age bracket can understand it, though. According to the CDC, your child must fulfill the requirements listed below in order to receive the booster shot:

  • They completed their primary vaccination series at least two months ago.
  • It’s been two months since their last booster.
  • It’s been three months since they had COVID-19.

William Schaffner, M.D., an infectious disease expert and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, emphasizes that getting the booster requires first receiving the primary immunization series. Therefore, you must follow all the other procedures before giving your child the booster dose.

What would happen if your child just had COVID-19?

Although it’s simple to assume your child doesn’t require a booster if they recently had COVID-19, doctors advise getting the shot nevertheless. After receiving the vaccine, you gain even more comprehensive protection, according to Dr. Schaffner. “You definitely want to protect your child from possibly serious sickness and the long-term effects of COVID-19, such as extended COVID, for as long as possible.”

The CDC advises delaying the subsequent vaccination (whether it is part of the primary series or the booster) by three months from the time that your child’s symptoms first appeared or when the child’s test result was positive.

However, according to John Sellick, D.O., an infectious disease specialist and epidemiology researcher at the University at Buffalo/SUNY, “this is not set in stone.” This means that as long as it hasn’t been quite three months since your child’s last infection, you should be able to get their booster dosage while you’re at the pediatrician’s office for the flu vaccination or another reason. Dr. Sellick notes, “Earlier in the pandemic, we were advising that people get immunized as soon as they recuperate.”

Experts praise the capacity to provide the bivalent booster to children in general. Dr. Schaffner remarks, “This has been much anticipated.” If we can convince parents to actually give it to their kids, Dr. Sellick predicts that this will be quite beneficial.

Over the next weeks, the bivalent booster shot will become more widely available at medical offices. Kids can presently get it at Walgreens stores nationally, and it should be available soon at the majority of other big pharmacies as well.

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