FDA Approves Updated Moderna, Pfizer Bivalent COVID-19 Booster for Younger Age Groups

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The US Food and Drug Administration approved the administration of an updated bivalent COVID-19 booster for younger age groups on Wednesday, Oct. 12.

This follows the FDA's modification of the emergency use authorizations for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to allow them to be used as a single booster dose in younger age groups.

FDA COVID-19 Vaccine Updates

According to the most recent FDA news release, the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine is now authorized for use at least two months after primary or booster vaccination in children as young as six.

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, on the other hand, is now also approved for administration at least two months after the conclusion of the primary or booster vaccination in children under the age of five.

The FDA informs the public that the newly approved vaccines provide an expansively protective immune response against COVID-19. This is because they include an mRNA component from the original strain and one held in common by the omicron variant BA.4 and BA.5 lineages to provide better protection against COVID-19 caused by the omicron variant.

Following ABC News, the updated FDA authorization means that more than 216 million Americans are now eligible to receive the bivalent booster.

COVID-19 Protection for School Children

"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," said Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D. 

"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," Marks added.

The FDA official also stated that vaccination is still the most effective way to avoid the severe consequences of COVID-19, such as hospitalization and death.

As reported by the Mayo Clinic, COVID-19 outbreaks do occasionally occur in school settings. However, global research has demonstrated, at least for early variants, that when schools employ a variety of prevention measures, the COVID-19 virus can spread in schools at a rate that is comparable to or lower than that of the general public.

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The FDA advises parents to consider primary vaccination for kids and, if appropriate, to follow up with an updated booster dose. This is due to the possibility that even after a mild illness at first, children may also experience long-term effects.

Latest COVID-19 Update

As of Oct. 12, there had been 619,770,633 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported to WHO, including 6,539,058 deaths. A total of 12,723,216,322 vaccine doses had been administered as of Oct. 3. This is from global data recorded by the World Health Organization.

Meanwhile, the FDA approved the updated COVID-19 vaccine boosters last August. The new vaccine boosters are intended to target the BA.5 omicron subvariant specifically. 

According to previous reports, the FDA used a controversial strategy to evaluate the boosters, testing them in mice rather than humans for the first time.

Related Article: Pfizer and Moderna Vaccines Against Omicron Variant Approved by the FDA

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