The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday backed the emergency use approval of the Pfizer booster shot for high-risk kids between the ages of 5 and 11, along with shortening the time period between a second dose and a booster shot from six months to five months.
Both approvals came from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday, while a third approval authorizing Pfizer booster shots for those aged 12-15 will be taken up by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Wednesday.
“As we have done throughout the pandemic, we will continue to update our recommendations to ensure the best possible protection for the American people, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in an agency statement. “Following the FDA’s authorizations, today’s recommendations ensure people are able to get a boost of protection in the face of Omicron and increasing cases across the country, and ensure that the most vulnerable children can get an additional dose to optimize protection against COVID-19. If you or your children are eligible for a third dose or a booster, please go out and get one as soon as you can.
“Additionally, FDA took action this week to authorize boosters for 12- to 15-year-olds — and I look forward to ACIP meeting on Wednesday to discuss this issue,” Walensky adds.
If the committee approves that authorization, it would be followed by what is expected to be a quick endorsement from Walensky.
COVID cases rising in children
While children are believed to better tolerate infection with COVID-19, in rare cases they can become severely ill and die. As well, the highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID is infecting record numbers of Americans now, putting pressure on hospitals that are already caring for patients infected with the Delta variant, the New York Times reports.
And children are not being spared in the Omicron surge: COVID-19 hospitalizations among the young are surging across the United States just as students return to school.
At least nine states have reported record numbers of COVID-related pediatric hospitalizations: They include Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania, as well as Washington, D.C., NBC News reported Monday.
And in more troubling news, the American Academy of Pediatrics on Monday reported a stunning rise in pediatric COVID cases.
“COVID-19 cases among U.S. children have reached the highest case count ever reported since the start of the pandemic,” the report says. “For the week ending Dec. 30th, over 325,000 child COVID-19 cases were reported. This number is a 64% increase over