What parents need to know about Omicron’s COVID boosters for babies 6 months and older

Omicron Booster: Babies under 6 months of age are now eligible for the updated COVID-19 vaccine. (Getty Images)

Babies under 6 months of age are now eligible for Omicron’s updated COVID-19 vaccine. The Food and Drug Administration authorized the use of Pfizer-BioNTech and bivalent boosters in this younger age group on December 8, just as the country is experiencing a “triple doubling” of COVID, influenza, and RSV.

While the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all babies 6 months of age and older without contraindications receive COVID-19 vaccines, vaccination rates for young children remain low. About 15.2 million children ages 6 months to 4 years have not yet received their first dose of the COVID vaccine, according to the AAP, which notes that childhood vaccination rates “vary widely across states, ranging from 2% to 38% receiving their first dose.” .”

So what do parents need to know about bivalent reinforcers for young children? Why do vaccination rates lag behind for children under the age of five? That’s what the experts say.

For children, who qualifies for an Omicron-specific booster dose?

Children 6 months and older are now eligible for a bivalent booster dose. Those between the ages of 6 months and 5 years are only allowed to receive a bivalent booster dose, however, as the first booster dose — two months after they finish the first two doses, Dr. Thomas Giordano, professor and chair of the division of infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine, says. Yahoo Live.

“For those who received two doses of Moderna, children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years could get a bivalent boost with either Pfizer or Moderna,” Dr. Aaron Millstone, professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, tells Yahoo Life. .

However, children ages 6 months to 4 years who have already had their initial three-dose series with the original (non-bivalent) Pfizer vaccine are not yet eligible for the updated bivalent booster, according to the FDA. Data to determine whether these children should receive an updated booster dose will be available in January.

How safe is the booster for young children?

The Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the bivalent booster for children was based on adult data, but experts say the vaccine is safe for children. “The FDA based its decision on the impressive safety data seen in all other age groups who received these vaccines,” Giordano explains. “I understand that this may turn off some parents, but these vaccines are incredibly safe. With Omicron making another breakthrough, this tweaking of vaccine ingredients wouldn’t concern me as a parent.”

Milestone says parents need to weigh the “risks and benefits” of vaccinating their children. “Severe illness has decreased since the introduction of the vaccine, as have cases of MIS-C in children,” he says, referring to multisystem inflammatory syndrome, a condition linked to the virus that causes COVID-19, in which different parts of the body, including inflammation, Heart, lungs and brain. “The vaccine and booster offer children the best possible protection against current and future variants.”

How important is it for children to get booster medicine?

While children are less likely to become seriously ill from COVID-19, Giordano says, “they can still get sick and can infect other people in the home. Getting a booster now will help prevent the relatively rare outcome fortunately for a severely ill child,” he said. It will help children miss less school and parents miss less work because the severity of the disease may be reduced.”

Although Giordano notes that there isn’t a lot of research in humans regarding how well vaccines protect against the newer BQ variants currently in circulation, “data from test tubes and laboratory studies suggest that protection against severe disease should remain very good.”

Millstone agrees, adding that “the data suggests that vaccines and boosters still protect against severe disease.”

Why are young children’s vaccination rates against coronavirus still low?

Experts say that several factors influence vaccination rates in children. “Fortunately, acute illness is less common among young children, so some parents may think the need isn’t as great,” says Giordano. Some parents believe that vaccinations may harm children in the long term. Childhood vaccines were also the last to be approved, and by that time, some of the enthusiasm for vaccinations had waned, although the need hadn’t necessarily changed.”

However, Giordano explains, “The potential for short-term harm is very low and there is nothing to suggest long-term harm, and the potential for benefit is real. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID, is not going away from humans anytime soon.”

Millstone agrees, saying the risks of vaccines are “small but greatly magnified by fear and misinformation.” From a public health perspective, he says, “the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks.”

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