The short answer: kids should get their booster as soon as they are eligible to receive one. On May 17, 2022, the FDA expanded authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine to include a COVID booster for all 5-11-year-olds. On May 19, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is expected to recommend a booster shot for this age group. Many also expect the CDC will adopt this recommendation for COVID boosters for kids shortly after. Previously, only immunocompromised kids aged 5-11 were eligible for a booster. With this change, everyone aged 5 and up will be eligible for a booster. People who are immunocompromised or over the age of 50 are eligible for additional boosters. (See here for current CDC booster recommendations)
With this announcement, many parents wonder if and when they should get their kids boosted.
Should my child get a COVID booster now or later?
Kids should get their boosters as soon as they are eligible to receive one.
As with all vaccines, there is no benefit to delaying boosters, only added risk. Just as waiting for a “better” COVID vaccine only comes with additional risk, waiting to get the COVID boosters for kids only adds risk — both for your child and for the community.
Some parents are considering waiting until fall due to fears of more frequent indoor exposures when school starts. However, waiting leaves children vulnerable now. Waiting leaves children with lower levels of protection at a time when a highly transmissible variant is spreading quickly with few remaining mitigation measures.
This applies to everyone over the age of 5, not just kids! It is important for all of us to keep up-to-date on our COVID vaccinations. CDC considers “up-to-date” to mean that you have received all doses in the primary series and one booster when eligible. This resource provides specific information about when you are “up-to-date” based on which vaccine you received.
As with previous authorizations, vaccines are available at no charge through pediatrician’s offices and other primary care sites, local pharmacies, schools, and community-based clinics. (You can find a vaccine here). While vaccines are available for free, resource and time constraints remain a barrier to vaccination for many families. While local, state, and federal authorities have worked to minimize these constraints in some communities, there is still a long way to go.
Delaying boosters is a risky strategy
We have written about the risks of delaying routine childhood vaccinations, and many of these risks hold true for COVID boosters for kids. Each day that your child remains not up-to-date increases their risk of infection and illness. Delaying fails to provide the bubble of immunity that younger kids, the immunocompromised, and those unable to be vaccinated rely on. In our communities, waiting slows our collective progress toward herd immunity. The longer we take to get to herd immunity, the more opportunity the virus has to mutate and spread, potentially evading the protection that current vaccines provide.
When will SciMoms get our kids boosted?
As we wrote early in the pandemic (before any vaccines were authorized), the SciMoms all vaccinated our children as soon as the COVID vaccines were authorized and available for our kids’ age groups. All the SciMoms vaccinated our kids within days of authorization and recommendation and plan to get the COVID booster for our kids as soon as they are eligible.
We are confident that the processes for vaccine authorization and safety monitoring are working to ensure both the safety and efficacy of these vaccines.
We recognize that this post is about individual decisions to vaccinate when vaccines are available to you and does not address the issues of availability or equity. In the face of inequitable vaccine availability and access around the world, we support efforts to ensure equitable production, availability, distribution, and accessibility of vaccines in all countries. Access to vaccines cannot be limited to the wealthy countries that produce them. We support plans that allow the vaccination of all people of the world as quickly as possible.
Our hope is that every person in the world is in a position to ask the question: should I get my COVID vaccine today?
Sections of this post appear in our previous post: Ask SciMoms: When should I get the COVID vaccine for my kids?