Children as young as six months old are now eligible for the COVID-19 bivalent “updated booster” shot in the latest vaccination guidelines announced in December by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ahead of winter holiday breaks throughout Illinois. Updated booster shots with additional protection against COVID-19 Omicron strains became available to adults earlier this year. Early CDC data suggest these shots decrease their recipients’ chance of severe infection by at least 50 percent – with high COVID-19 transmission rates seen in more than 40 Illinois counties. Continuing to take measures to increase protection remains critical. In expanding the booster’s eligibility age, the FDA – followed within days by the CDC – also laid out new pathways for young Illinoisans to stay current with their vaccination schedules. Those pathways are outlined below:
Completed Pfizer-BioNTech Primary Series
For children ages six months to four years old, the primary series made by Pfizer-BioNTech is a three-dose vaccination. Anyone who has completed this regimen is NOT yet eligible for a bivalent booster. “Children in this age group who already completed their primary series would still be expected to have protection against the most serious outcomes from the currently circulating omicron variant,” the FDA says. “The data to support giving an updated bivalent booster dose for these children are expected in January. The agency is committed to evaluating those data as quickly as possible.”
Incomplete Pfizer-BioNTech Primary Series
The Pfizer-BioNTech primary series for children ages six months to four years old is a three-dose vaccination of the original, monovalent shots. Children in this age bracket who have not completed the regimen become eligible for a bivalent dose two months after their second dose.
Completed Moderna Primary Series
Anyone at least six months old who completed the Moderna monovalent primary series – a two-dose vaccination that establishes the most basic immunity against COVID-19 - is eligible for the bivalent mRNA booster shot two months after their last dose. A searchable directory of vaccine appointments by ZIP code is available at vaccines.gov. You can also contact your local health department for additional vaccine appointment availability.
Incomplete Moderna Primary Series
The Moderna primary series consists for children ages six months to five years old is two doses of the original, monovalent mRNA vaccine. A person in this age bracket who has received at least the first dose will be eligible for an updated, bivalent booster two months after completing the primary series.