Parents breathed a sigh of relief when Covid vaccines were finally approved for children ages 12 through 17, and then for little ones ages 5 through 11. Knowing your little humans are protected against a serious infection is a major relief, but now that boosters are recommended for all adults, the next question may well be will kids need Covid boosters too?
Not every parent will celebrate the news that their needle-phobic kids may need a third dose of the vaccine, but experts say it may be just what their immune system needs to keep Covid at bay.
Will Covid Boosters Be Available To Kids?
The CDC has officially shared that everyone over the age of 18 needs a booster in light of the omicron variant. And as of Jan. 3, 2021, the FDA has given full authorization for children ages 12 to 15 to receive a booster, as long as they are at least five months out from their first doses.
Vivek Cherian, M.D., a Chicago-based internal medicine physician at Amita Health, told Romper in early December that the CDC and FDA were reviewing how long the protection would last in a younger person, and that when it comes to very young children, the immunity is probably much longer.
While children 12 and up are eligible for boosters, those under the age of 12 don’t have any guidance yet. “At this time, we have to wait and see if more than two shots are needed,” says Preeti Parikh, M.D., pediatrician and the medical director at GoodRx, in an interview with Romper. “Some factors that we’ll need to consider are if and when their immune response wanes, similar to adults, and if there are more evolving variants that aren’t being covered.”
When Will We Know If Kids Will Need Covid Boosters?
It’s hard to say exactly when we’ll know whether very young children will require covid vaccine boosters since research is still ongoing, says Parikh, but that adults’ immunity to Covid-19 was found to wane six months after vaccination. Determining how long it takes for children’s immunity to wane (or if it does at all) is what experts are trying to determine now.
Children’s immunity to most illnesses tends to last longer than that of adults and the elderly, so it’s hard to predict whether they’ll need booster shots at all.
“The reason for this is because of their age and their young healthy immune system, their immunity will more than likely wane less rapidly compared to an elderly individual. Bottom line, we will continue to follow the data behind this, and whenever the time comes, you better believe that we will be ready to give them a booster,” Cherian said.
What About Children Who Are Higher Risk?
Even if studies on boosters in children find that most kids don’t need Covid boosters, will children who are high risk or immunocompromised need them?
“At this time, children 12 and older with certain medical and immune conditions are recommended to get a third dose,” said Parikh. “However, no such recommendation has been made yet for children 5 to 11 years old, so we will have to wait and see.”
Vivek Cherian, M.D., a Chicago-based internal medicine physician at Amita Health
Preeti Parikh, M.D., pediatrician and the medical director at GoodRx
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