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US health authorities authorize updated coronavirus boosters for children 5, older

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Oct 13, 2022 - 02:03 AM

WASHINGTON (AA) – US health authorities granted emergency use authorization Wednesday to expand eligibility for updated coronavirus booster shots for children as young as 5.

Full approval was granted in September for children as young as 12, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) latest action now clears the way for a greater pool of youngsters to receive Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccines that have been updated to address the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of the omicron strain.

The Pfizer-BioNTech jab is authorized for children as young as 5, while Moderna’s is for those 6 and older.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky signed off on the expansion hours after the Food and Drug Administration lent its support.

The CDC said the decisions mark “critical next steps forward in our country’s vaccination program—a program that has helped provide increased protection against severe COVID-19 disease and death.”

FDA authorities early Wednesday cited a greater return to pre-pandemic norms across the country, including the return of children to in-person schooling, as they announced the new authorization.

“Since children have gone back to school in person and people are resuming pre-pandemic behaviors and activities, there is the potential for increased risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19. Vaccination remains the most effective measure to prevent the severe consequences of COVID-19, including hospitalization and death,” said Peter Marks, the head of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

“While it has largely been the case that COVID-19 tends to be less severe in children than adults, as the various waves of COVID-19 have occurred, more children have gotten sick with the disease and have been hospitalized. Children may also experience long-term effects, even following initially mild disease,” he added.

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