COVID booster eligibility extended to children 5 and older

By Aldon Thomas Stiles

California Black Media

SACRAMENTO — State officials have announced eligibility for the updated Moderna COVID-19 booster and the Pfizer-BioNTech booster has been expanded.

Now children 6 years old and older who have received their initial series of vaccinations can receive the updated Moderna bivalent booster. Children 5 years old and older are approved to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech bivalent booster two months after their most recent injection.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these reformulated single dose boosters are referred to as “bivalent” because they are meant to defend against both the original virus that causes COVID-19 and the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants which currently make up about 80% of the cases in the United States.

California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly, and Director of the California Department of Public Health and State Public Health Officer Dr. Tomás J. Aragón made the announcement Oct. 13 as experts are predicting that there will be an uptick in COVID-19 cases during the upcoming holiday season.

The decision to approve the use of bivalent boosters is in line with recommendations the CDC has made to the public and it is supported by the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup.

“Given the anticipated burden of COVID-19 infections and related illnesses this fall/winter season, the workgroup believes that the benefits of bivalent booster doses that more closely match currently circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants will sustain protection against COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths in young children and substantially outweigh any potential risks,’ Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup Chair Dr. Arthur Reingold said in a statement addressed to the governors of California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

Medical experts warn that cooler weather will bring a surge of COVID-19 cases at the same time that cases of the flu could make a return this fall and winter. Doctors are promoting flu shots to keep hospital admissions down as health systems grapple with surging COVID cases.

According to the CDC and official state estimates, the national 14-day-average for COVID-19 hospitalizations is currently 6,496 while the state average is about 1,818.

According to the state, the number of COVID-19 deaths averaged about 19 per day.

About 72.3% of Californians have received the primary series of vaccinations. 58.6% the state’s population have received the primary series and the booster. Only 37.5% of children 5-11 have received the primary series of vaccinations.

Eligible Californians can speak with their doctor, visit or call 833-422-4255 for more information to make a vaccine or booster appointment.