Scientific advisers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet on Thursday to decide whether a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine would be recommended for children ages 5 to 11.
The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday approved a booster shot for this age group. CDC advisers are also expected to support the shots. The director of the agency said. Rochelle Walensky is expected to sign the recommendation soon.
Excessive doses may increase the immunity of these children to the current omicron forms. Studies have shown that two doses of the vaccine provide virtually no resistance to Omicron variant infections in children 5 to 11 years of age, although protection against serious diseases remains strong.
Among 12- to 17-year-olds, two doses provide little protection against hospitalization, but a booster shot significantly improves immunity.
Pfizer and Bioentech reported Tuesday that among children aged 5 to 11, the third dose produced antibodies against both the Omicron variant and the original version of the coronavirus. In one clinical trial, children received 10 micrograms of the vaccine in each shot – one-third of the dose given to adolescents and adults.
Like the first two doses, the booster shot seemed safe, the companies said. The most commonly reported side effects are pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, as well as pain, chills and fever.
Less than one-third of 5- to 11-year-olds in the United States received two doses. Many parents are reluctant to vaccinate their children because they are much less at risk of serious illness than adults.
However, a record number of children were hospitalized during the Omicron increase this winter. And some studies have shown that even babies with mild illness can have symptoms for months at a time.