The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released new data demonstrating how the updated (bivalent) boosters effectively enhance COVID-19 protection.
“[B]ivalent boosters provided significant additional protection against symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection in persons who had previously received 2, 3, or 4 monovalent vaccine doses,” says the CDC report. Furthermore, the boosters “restored protection that had decreased since receiving the last vaccine dose.”
FDA authorizes bivalent boosters for children under 5
On December 8, Pfizer and BioNTech revealed the Omicron BA.4/BA.5-adapted bivalent COVID-19 vaccine was given Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as the third dose for children aged 6 months to 4 years.
A primary series can be administered to children in this age range, consisting of two 3-µg shots of the original Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and a third 3-µg shot of the bivalent vaccine. Upon receiving a recommendation from the CDC, the updated shots can be administered to this age group right away, according to a Pfizer press release.
“As the virus evolves it remains our goal to be able to provide access to variant-adapted vaccines against COVID-19 to a broader population,” said BioNTech CEO and co-founder, Prof. Ugur Sahin, M.D. “With this authorization, the adapted vaccine based on the Omicron sublineages BA.4 and BA.5 can become an important part of the primary vaccination series for young children.”
The same day, the FDA authorized the Moderna BA.4/BA.5 Omicron-targeting bivalent COVID-19 booster vaccine for children aged 6 months through 5 years.
“With the FDA’s decision, children and adolescents of all age groups in the U.S. will now be eligible for our updated bivalent COVID-19 booster, providing families with an important protective tool as we continue through the winter months,” said Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel. “We appreciate the FDA’s timely review.”
More people need to get bivalent COVID boosters
However, despite the vaccines’ usefulness and safety, we have a problem: only 12.7% of kids over five received the updated booster as of December 1. In addition, according to a September article by POLITICO, many young children under five are not receiving the COVID vaccination.
Only 32.6% of people over 65 – a high-risk age group – had received the bivalent booster as of December 1.
“There are three pillars to preparing for the upcoming season, as well as any other season, and the first one is vaccination,” Roche Diagnostics’ Dr. Jamie Deeter told Bio.News. “Get the flu vaccine and get boosted for COVID-19. Now is the right time.”