Pfizer seeks to expand omicron booster to 5- to 11-year-olds

Fall boosters engineered to target the BA.4 and BA.5 versions of omicron may be quickly outpaced. Still, those booster shots remain the best tool on the shelf.

Pfizer asked U.S. regulators Monday to expand use of its updated COVID-19 booster shot to children ages 5 to 11.

Elementary school-aged children already received kid-sized doses of Pfizer’s original vaccine, a third of the dose given to everyone 12 and older—two primary shots plus a booster.

If the Food and Drug Administration agrees, they would start getting a kid-sized dose of the new omicron-targeted formula when it was time for their booster.

FDA vaccine chief Dr. Peter Marks said last week he expected a decision on boosters for that age group soon.

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech also announced a new study of the omicron-focused booster in even younger children, those ages 6 months through 4 years, to test different doses.

Updated boosters made by both Pfizer and rival Moderna rolled out earlier this month for everyone 12 and older. They’re a tweak to vaccines that already have saved millions of lives—a combination or “bivalent” shot that contains half the original recipe and half protection against the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron relatives responsible for most of today’s COVID-19 cases.

The hope is that the modified boosters will help tamp down continuing COVID-19 cases and blunt another winter surge. As of last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 4.4 million Americans had gotten an updated booster so far.

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