WHO: Current evidence suggests boosters unnecessary for healthy children

There is no evidence "right now" indicating a COVID-19 booster dose is necessary for healthy children and adolescents, the World Health Organization's chief scientist said during a Jan. 18 press conference. 

"There's no evidence right now that healthy children or healthy adolescents need boosters, no evidence at all," said Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, WHO chief scientist, adding the agency's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization is meeting later this week to "consider this specific question of how countries should think about giving boosters to their populations." 

Right now, the agency's global priority is to provide primary doses to those who have not yet been vaccinated "while at the same time trying to protect the most vulnerable in every country's population" from severe illness, Dr. Swaminathan said. 

COVID-19 vaccines offer high levels of protection against severe disease. "That's the outcome we're most interested in, protection against death," Dr. Swaminathan said, adding that eventually the focus may shift for the next generation of vaccines to block infection more efficiently. "Then we can think abou really trying to control transmission." 

The CDC recommends everyone 12 and older get their booster shot. For Pfizer and Moderna recipients, boosters are recommended at least 5 months after completing the initial two-dose series. Boosters are recommended two months after the initial shot for Johnson & Johnson recipients. Pfizer's vaccine is currently the only one authorized for use in children over the age of 5, though a booster shot is currently not recommended for children younger than 12. 

 

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