What We Know About Bivalent Boosters for Kids

What We Know About Bivalent Boosters for Kids

COVID vaccine boosters were updated this fall: Pfizer for ages 12 and up, Moderna for ages 18 and up. Now, younger kids can join in. The FDA announced today that both companies’ boosters have been authorised for ages 5 and up. The CDC also issued an updated recommendation stating that children in this age group should get the new boosters.

The bivalent boosters contain two version of the COVID vaccine, hence the name: one mRNA that codes for the same spike protein as the old vaccine, and one that makes a spike protein that matches the one found in the Omicron (BA.4 and BA.5) variants. Getting this twofer is supposed to provide better protection against future COVID infections than just getting another dose of the original formula vaccine.

Children tend to get milder symptoms than adults when they catch COVID, but serious cases are definitely possible — and every parent knows how easily germs can spread in schools and other settings where kids spend time together. It’s smart to get a flu shot every year to reduce your chances of getting sick and to reduce the chances that you’ll spread the disease to others in your family, such as elderly folks — and the COVID booster makes sense for the same reason.

According to CDC guidelines, you don’t need to count how many previous booster shots kids have received. Once they’ve gotten their primary series (the initial two doses of Pfizer or Moderna, three if they’re immunocompromised, or an appropriate number of doses of another vaccine) and at least two months or more have passed, they’re considered eligible for the new booster.

The FDA’s announcement has more information on how they determined the new vaccine is safe and effective. Rather than running all-new trials on children, they used data from previous studies of the monovalent (original formula) vaccine, alongside data from older age groups.

Side effects are expected to be the same as with the original formulation booster: possible pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site, and possible fatigue, headache, and other mild symptoms.

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