Scientific advisers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet on Thursday to discuss whether to recommend a third dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to children aged 5 to 11 years.
The Office of Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday allowed vaccinations for this age group. CDC advisers are also expected to support the filming. Dr. Rochelle Valensky, the agency’s director, is expected to sign the recommendation soon.
The extra dose may increase immunity to current Omicron variants in these children. Studies have shown that two doses of the vaccine are virtually no barrier against Omicron variant infection in children aged 5 to 11 years, although protection against serious disease remains strong.
In adolescents aged 12 to 17, two doses provided little protection even from hospitalization, but regulatory injections significantly improved immunity.
Pfizer and BioNTech reported on Tuesday that in children aged 5 to 11, the third dose produced antibodies against both the Omicron variant and the original version of the coronavirus. In a clinical study, children received 10 micrograms of the vaccine – one-third of the dose given to adolescents and adults – in each injection.
As with the first two doses, reconstitution was safe, the company said. The most common side effects reported were pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site, as well as pain, chills, and fever.
Less than one-third of children ages 5 to 11 in the United States received two doses. Many parents are hesitant to vaccinate their children, in part because their risk of serious illness is much lower than that of adults.
But this winter, a record number of children were hospitalized during the Amicron surge. And some studies show that even children who have a mild illness can experience symptoms for months.