Families can now schedule Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots for children age 5-11 years at least five months after their initial vaccine series. This is in response to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorizing the booster shot for this age group on Tuesday, May 17, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) endorsing it on Thursday, May 19. The initial Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine series was previously authorized for children in this age range in November 2021.
Booster shots are known to provide renewed protection against COVID-19, as research has shown that like vaccines for other illnesses, the protection from the primary COVID-19 vaccine series wanes over time (especially as new variants emerge).
While children are less likely to be severely affected by COVID-19 than individuals in other age groups, they can still become infected, experience symptoms from the disease, lose days from school and other activities, and in some cases, need to be hospitalized.
“Data suggest that levels of protection from the initial series can decrease with time, even in children age 5-11,” says J. Nathan Hagstrom, MD, Chair, Department of Pediatrics at Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital. “Preliminary research by Pfizer-BioNTech showed that the booster shot significantly increased the level of neutralizing antibodies against both the original version of the virus and the omicron variant in this age group.”