The Food and Drug Administration authorized bivalent COVID-19 boosters for children as young as 6 months on Thursday. The boosters have an updated formulation that offers additional protection to the omicron variant of the virus.
The boosters are meant for young children who previously have gotten COVID-19 shots.
Eligibility for the booster shot depends on vaccination status. Young children who received two shots of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine are eligible for the booster two months after their second shot.
Children who have not completed the Pfizer vaccination series will get the new booster as part of their third shot.
Young children who previously completed Pfizer’s three-shot vaccination series are not currently eligible for the booster. The FDA said health and safety data will be available in January, which will be used on whether to authorize the shot.
“More children now have the opportunity to update their protection against COVID-19 with a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine, and we encourage parents and caregivers of those eligible to consider doing so – especially as we head into the holidays and winter months where more time will be spent indoors,” said FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf. “As this virus has changed, and immunity from previous COVID-19 vaccination wanes, the more people who keep up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations, the more benefit there will be for individuals, families and public health by helping prevent severe illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths.”
Although the updated boosters have been available since September, only a small percentage of Americans have gotten one. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, 12.7% of Americans over the age of 5 have gotten a booster shot.
That’s compared to 68.8% of the total population who are considered fully vaccinated with the original shot.
While most adults have gotten COVID-19 shots, younger age groups are less likely to be vaccinated.
According to the CDC, 4.6% of children ages 2-4 have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. In the next age group up, 32.1% of children ages 5-11 are fully vaccinated, while a majority, 61.3%, of those ages 12-17 are fully vaccinated.