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US expected to approve COVID booster for children as young as 12: report

KCBS News Radio
KCBS News Radio
 2021-12-31

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to expand eligibility for Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine boosters on Monday to children as young as 12 years old, according to multiple reports.

The New York Times first reported on Thursday about the agency's likely move, which was then confirmed by CNN and NBC News . Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky told CNN on Wednesday a decision on boosters for children aged 12-15 could be days away.

Currently, anyone who is at least 16 years old and was fully vaccinated at least six months ago is eligible to receive a Pfizer booster. The Pfizer vaccine is the only one authorized for children as young as 5 years old.

Dr. Dean Blumberg, Professor and Chief of Pediatric Diseases at UC Davis Health, told KCBS Radio’s Liz Saint John in an interview on Thursday he "would certainly recommend" boosters once they're made available to younger teenagers, provided the safety and immune response data is similar to children and older adults.

"Many people don't realize how serious COVID can be for children because we've been hearing about how serious it is in adults, especially those over 65 years of age," Blumberg said. "But there's been more than 7 million infections in U.S. children, more than 1 million hospitalizations and more than 1,000 deaths, so it may be serious."

As of Wednesday, at least 75% of children aged 12-17 had been fully vaccinated in eight of nine Bay Area counties, according to state data. Solano County had vaccinated just 56.3% of residents in that age group.

Public health officers across the region have warned residents the one- and two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series don’t offer as much protection against the highly contagious omicron variant as getting a booster does. But even in highly vaccinated Marin County, fewer than 50% of residents aged 12 or older have received a booster.

With the omicron variant well on its way to overtaking delta as the dominant strain in the U.S. , Blumberg said eligible children receiving booster shots is vital to ensure schools still hold classes in person.

"We want to do everything possible to ensure schools remain open," he said. "We know how important this is to children's physical and mental health."

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