• AAFP Backs New EUAs on COVID-19 Boosters for Children

    October 14, 2022, 2:14 p.m. News Staff —The AAFP, following an expedited review of evidence, has approved federal authorization of the bivalent COVID-19 booster shots that target the original strain of SARS-Co-V-2 and a pair of omicron subvariants for use in children and adolescents.

    booster vaccine concept

    The FDA on Oct. 12 amended the emergency use authorizations of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to allow bivalent versions as a single booster dose in younger age groups. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, M.D. M.P.H., signed a memo expanding use of the vaccines later that day.

    The Academy’s Commission on Health of the Public and Science approved the actions of both agencies on Oct. 13. The AAFP has also updated its COVID-19 Vaccine webpage to reflect the latest information.

    “COVID-19 vaccines have been effective at preventing serious illness from COVID-19, hospitalization and death,” said Commission Chair Alexis “Alex” Vosooney, M.D., of West St. Paul, Minn. “With the approval of an updated booster, children and adolescents now will have access to additional protection from omicron variants. Family physicians should address parental vaccine hesitancy with evidenced-based information on vaccine safety and efficacy.”    

    Bivalent Booster Details

    The bivalent boosters contain spike protein components common to omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, along with an mRNA component of the original SARS-CoV-2 strain that first emerged in late 2019.

    The Pfizer-BioNTech booster has been approved for children ages 5-11 years, while the Moderna booster has been approved for children and adolescents ages 6-17 years.

    The bivalent boosters may be administered at least two months following completion of primary or booster vaccination. They are not intended as initial vaccination.

    It is important to note that as a result of the amended EUA, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster shot is no longer authorized as a booster dose in children ages 5-11 years. However, the monovalent original vaccines manufactured by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech may continue to be used for primary vaccination in patients who have never been vaccinated against COVID-19.

    Overcoming Vaccine Hesitancy

    There is substantial evidence that many parents are hesitant to have their children receive COVID-19 vaccines. To address these concerns, the Academy has developed a number of member resources, including

    Additional tools for members are available through organizations such as the COVID-19 Vaccine Education and Equity Project. On Aug. 18, then-AAFP Board Chair Ada Stewart, M.D., participated in a webinar to address parental concerns about childhood COVID-19 vaccines and discuss ways to increase confidence in the vaccines.

    On Oct. 18 at 8 p.m. ET, the organization will present a 60-minute panel discussion, Moving the Needle on Kids’ COVID-19 Vaccines. Speakers will include Uché Blackstock, M.D., founder and CEO of Advancing Health Equity, LLC, who delivered a presentation on health equity at the 2020 FMX.  

    Other resources on addressing vaccine hesitancy and improving vaccine confidence are available from the CDC and HHS.

    And as always, members are encouraged to bookmark the Academy’s COVID-19 and COVID-19 Vaccine webpages for additional resources and materials as they become available.