CDC signs off on boosters for 5-11-year-olds

The CDC's independent vaccine committee voted in favor of boosters for children ages 5-11 (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP) (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNN)The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signed off on boosters for 5- to 11-year-olds following the independent vaccine advisers recommendation for an additional dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine following a primary series.

The CDC's vaccine advisers voted 11-1, with 1 abstention Thursday to support recommending a booster dose, which the US Food and Drug Administration authorized earlier this week.
The recommendation they voted on was: "A single Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine booster dose is recommended for persons ages 5-11 years at least 5 months after the primary series, under the FDA's Emergency Use Authorization."
    The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices endorsed the booster for children at least five months after they received their two-dose series. This would be a third dose for healthy children and a fourth dose for children who are immunocompromised.
      The committee voted for the booster after hearing details about Pfizer's application to the FDA to expand access to the boosters for this age group. Waning antibody levels have been seen in children who have received a primary vaccination series, and booster doses achieved antibody levels higher than what was seen after the primary series.
        The company said data from its clinical trials showed it raised Omicron-fighting antibodies by 36 times in this age group. The trial that included 4,500 children ages 5 through 11 saw no new safety issues, according to the company.
        "Overall, the benefits of Covid vaccines continue to outweigh the risks as we continue to see, regardless of what age group is highlighted, receipt of the Covid vaccine primary series continues to be critically important for the prevention of severe Covid-19 morbidity and mortality and overall Covid-19 vaccine booster doses have been shown to increase protection against all outcomes in those 12 and over," said Dr. Sara Oliver, a pediatric infectious disease specialist and the lead for the Covid-19 vaccines ACIP Work Group. "It's likely that children ages 5 through 11 would benefit from a Covid-19 vaccine booster dose."
          The Omicron variant of the coronavirus has been tough on kids. Studies from the New York State Department of Health and the CDC found that the effectiveness of two doses of Pfizer's vaccine for children ages 5 to 12 fell significantly during the Omicron surge, falling from 68% to about 12% against infection. Two doses of the vaccine did seem to keep kids out of the hospital.
          While not at the same levels as during the Omicron wave, Covid-19 cases among children have been increasing. The number of new Covid-19 cases among children in the US grew nearly 76% last week from two weeks prior, the American Academy of Pediatrics said Monday.
          According to the latest report from the CDC, 1,547 children have died of Covid-19 in the US and 364 of them were in the 5-11 year-old age range.
          The American Academy of Pediatrics says that almost 13.2 million kids in the US have tested positive for Covid-19 during the pandemic, with more than 5.3 million of those cases coming this year. Those numbers are probably undercounted, as testing has fallen off in much of the country.
          Looking at electronic health records, with more than 700,000 doses administered, there were no real safety problems found with the Pfizer vaccine in children, according to a presentation given to the committee.
          Anaphylaxis rates in children ages 5-11 following the Pfizer vaccination were comparable to the rate seen in people ages 12 and older. In the three months after the initial vaccine series, there were 10 potential cases of myocarditis or pericarditis, both types of heart inflammation, but four of those cases were determined not be related to the vaccination, the CDC said in its presentation.
          "The general picture is that myocarditis associated with mRNA vaccination relative to viral myocarditis tends to be clinically mild and patients have good prognosis and a fairly short recovery period," the CDC's Dr. Tom Shimabukuro told the committee.
          The rates were also lower in this age group than were seen in adolescence. The rate was also lower after a booster dose.
          Most children, if they experienced any problems with the vaccine were considered non-serious, like pain at the injection site. This was similar to adults' reaction after their second dose.
          Vaccination is an important protection for children. The risk of dying from Covid-19 for children 12 years and older in February of 2020 was 20 times higher among unvaccinated children, compared to those with the primary vaccine series and a booster dose.
          While scientists initially believed that Covid-19 didn't impact children nearly as much as it did adults, deaths from Covid-19 in 5 -11-year-o