Children aged 5-11 years to get booster dose in September

Now that the FDA has officially authorized booster dose for children aged 5-11 years, the health ministry will accordingly prepare to roll out the booster dose for the country’s children by September

With the Food and Drug Authority (FDA) of the United States authorizing the first booster dose of Pfizer- BIoNTech Covid-19 vaccine for children aged 5-11 years early this week, the Ministry of Health (MoH) is in the process of planning the preparation for the booster dose.

A MoH official, who is in charge of the vaccine programme, said, “As of now, we didn’t have any plans because the FDA hasn’t authorized the booster for children aged 5-11 years, but the FDA recently informed and authorized the booster for children, so everything will be arranged appropriately for our children.”

Meanwhile, at this time, the official said children aged 5-11 in the country are not eligible for the booster because the second dose of vaccination for them was only completed on April 4.

According to the Food and Drug Administration of the US, children in this age range can receive a booster shot at least five months after receiving the first two dosage series.

A week-long nationwide vaccination campaign for children aged 5-11 years in the country began on March 6; vaccinating around 97.25% of the children. The immunization campaign for the second dose began on April 4.

“There should be at least a five-month interval between the second dose and the first booster shot,” the health official said, adding that children between 5-11 years, who have received both the first two doses, will be eligible for the booster only by September.

“Given that it has only been about a month since children have been vaccinated with the second dose, it gives us a lot of time, almost four months, by which time our children will be fully eligible for the booster,” he added.

The official said that it is beneficial because by the time the children become eligible, the FDA would have provided more evidence and recommendations for vaccine use, and it will be safe to begin the vaccination program for our children.

In the meantime, the CDCP of the US has also approved the expansion of Covid-19 booster eligibility to cover all children over the age of five.

According to the FDA, the booster shot is 10 microgram of the same dosages as the primary series for the age group and a third of the dosage given to people aged 12 and up.

Meanwhile, during the start of the vaccine campaign for children aged 5-11 years in the country, around 180,000 doses of Pfizer were imported and distributed across the country.

According to the official from the MoH, vaccination has prevented “a wide range of health outcomes, including infection, emergency department visits, hospitalization, and critical disease”.

And while people have been inquiring about the Covid-19 vaccine for children below the age of five given that children are more vulnerable to the Covid-19, the official from the vaccine program said, “The US-FDA has not authorized vaccines for children under the age of five. However, when the FDA authorizes the vaccines, the ministry will prepare accordingly. ”

Tshering Pelden from Thimphu