Pfizer asks FDA to authorize third Covid vaccine shot for children 5 to 11 years old

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Dr. Sandra Hughes prepares to administer a first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine (COVID-19) to Elise Langevina, 6, in Storrs, Connecticut, U.S., November 3, 2021.
Michelle McLoughlin | Reuters

Pfizer on Tuesday asked the Food and Drug Administration to authorize a third dose of its Covid vaccine for children ages 5- to 11-years-old.

The application comes after Pfizer released data earlier this month from a small lab study of blood samples from 30 kids in the age group, which showed a 36-fold increase in antibody levels against the omicron variant compared to two doses of the vaccine.

The booster shot is a 10-microgram dose, the same level as the primary vaccination series. The third shot did not demonstrate any new safety concerns in the trial, according to Pfizer.

The FDA previously authorized Pfizer booster doses for teenagers 12 to 15-years-old in January as the omicron variant swept the nation. The protection the vaccines provide against infection has declined over time, particularly in the context of omicron, which is adept at evading the antibodies that block the virus from infecting human cells. However, the vaccines are still providing strong protection against severe illness.

It’s unclear whether the FDA’s advisory committee will meet to discuss the data and make a recommendation. The FDA did not call meetings of the outside expert panel before authorizing third shots for kids ages 12 to 15 in January and fourth shots for people ages 50 and older last month.

Several members of the FDA panel as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advisory committee have criticized the agencies for repeatedly moving forward with expanded booster eligibility without consulting them.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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