Pfizer asks FDA to allow booster shots for children ages 5-11: Shots

Finn Washburn, 9, receives an injection of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in San Jose, California in November. Now pharmaceutical companies are asking permission to give children a booster dose of the vaccine.

Noah Berger/AP


hide caption

toggle caption

Noah Berger/AP


Finn Washburn, 9, receives an injection of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in San Jose, California in November. Now pharmaceutical companies are asking permission to give children a booster dose of the vaccine.

Noah Berger/AP

Children ages 5 to 11 who have received two injections of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine may soon be eligible for a booster. That’s if the Food and Drug Administration agrees to a request made Tuesday by pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech to allow their booster shots for children in that age range.

The companies submitted data to the FDA showing that the low-dose booster shot is safe for children ages 5 to 11 and may help protect them from omicron. Currently, rappels are only permitted for people ages 12 and older.

The companies say a third vaccine for young children could help counter the waning immunity that has made other age groups more vulnerable, especially against omicron, which is more effective at bypassing the system. immune.

Some independent experts agree. But others remain skeptical about the need for another vaccine for young children.

“Over time, immunity to the vaccine wanes. And we know that happens in children as well. So the current data really supports the vaccine and the boosters in particular to maintain immunity,” says Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, an infectious disease researcher at Stanford who advises the American Academy of Pediatrics and also helped test the vaccine for Pfizer.

On the other hand, vaccines still do a good job of protecting everyone, including children, against serious diseases, says Dr. Paul Offit who directs the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and advises the Food and Drug Administration.

“It may be that over time these two doses do not protect against severe disease, in which case one could reasonably receive a third dose. But for now, the protection against severe disease seems to be holding up,” he says.

Without evidence that a third dose provides stronger protection not just against infection but against serious illness, he says, “I don’t see a clear reason to give a third dose now.”

It’s still unclear how much demand there might be, especially since case rates are low overall in much of the country. There are likely to be parents who are eager to get booster shots for their children – the same parents who rushed to get their children given their first two shots. But it was a minority of parents. Less than a third of children aged 5 to 11 have received the first two vaccines. And less than a quarter of children aged 12 to 17 have received reminders.

The FDA will review the companies’ case and may well convene a meeting of the agency’s outside advisers to help make a decision. Then the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would have to step in.

About Franklin Bailey

Check Also

Pensacola’s Sylvia Tisdale hikes Mount Kilimanjaro to help the hungry

When Sylvia Tisdalefounder and pastor of Epps Christian Ministriesturned 70 last October, she had accomplished …