The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted an emergency use authorization for children ages 5 to 11 to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech covid-19 vaccine, at least five months after completing the first vaccination schedule.

Pfizer applied for this emergency use authorization in late April, citing company data that showed a third dose of the vaccine increased antibodies against the omicron variant 36-fold in this age group.

“While it has been the case broadly that COVID-19 tends to be less severe in children than adults, the wave of omicron has led to more children becoming ill and being hospitalized. And children may also experience longer-term effects even after initially presenting with mild disease,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf said in a news release on Tuesday.

“The FDA authorizes the use of a single booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against covid-19 for children 5 to 11 years of age, in order to provide continuous protection against the virus.”

Research from the New York State Department of Health and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the efficacy of two doses of the Pfizer vaccine in children 5-12 year olds dropped substantially during the rise of the omicron wave, dropping from 68% to around 12% against infection.

However, both doses continued to protect against more severe illness resulting in emergency care or hospitalizations.

Public health officials have urged Americans to be up to date on their Covid-19 vaccinations, including all recommended booster doses. This as the best way to protect themselves and the people around them.

A recent Citizen Free Press analysis of CDC data showed that for those who were fully vaccinated and had a booster dose in February, the risk of dying from COVID-19 was 20 times lower than for unvaccinated people age 12 and older.

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet this Thursday to discuss COVID-19 vaccine boosters. Although the agenda for the meeting has not been released, a vote is scheduled, according to the Federal Register.

Tuesday’s decision means anyone over the age of 5 is now eligible to receive at least one booster dose.

People over 50 years of age and people over 12 years of age who are immuno-suppressed are eligible for two booster doses.

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