US expert panel supports COVID booster for children 5 to 11 years old

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An advisory panel from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday voted to recommend the COVID-19 vaccine booster shot for children aged 5 to 11, at least five months after completing their initial immunization course.

Advisers have considered CDC data that show that protection from the first two shots begins to decline over time and that boosters in the older age group improve performance against severe COVID and hospitalization.

The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday approved a booster dose of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine for the age group as COVID cases continue to rise in the United States.

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CDC director Rochelle Walensky still has to sign off on the committee’s recommendation, but indicated at the meeting that she would support additional shots.

“We know that immunity decreases over time, and we need to do what we can to protect the weakest,” Walensky said. “It’s important for us to anticipate where this epidemic is heading and to locate the tools that we have that will have the greatest impact.”

The U.S. government is pushing to encourage eligible Americans, but less than half of those who have been fully vaccinated have rolled up their sleeves for extra shots.

Pfizer told the meeting that data showed that a third dose of its vaccine had produced a stronger immune response against the Omicron variant in healthy children aged 5-11 years.

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The CDC also presented safety data showing that the incidence of heart inflammation after vaccination in the age group was significantly lower than in adolescents and young adults.

More than 29% of US children aged 5-11 are considered fully vaccinated with two doses of Pfizer / Bioentech shots. Vaccines are not yet approved for children under 5 years of age.

The Vaccine Committee voted 11 to 1 to recommend additional shots, with one doctor abstaining.

Vanderbilt University Professor. Helen Cape Talbot was the only committee member to vote against the Boosters’ recommendation, arguing that attention should be paid to raising the immunization rate by age.

“The Boosters are great when we get everyone in their first round,” he said.

Companies are already looking at the potential need for redesigned COVID-19 vaccines for the fall to target new forms of concern.

CDC scientist said. Amanda Cohen said the newly designed vaccines may not be available to children right now because pediatric shots are formulated differently from what adults would be given.

(Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bangalore and Michael Erman in New Jersey; Editing by Bill Barcrott)

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