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LVHN Health Tips: COVID boosters now available for younger children

Appointments for recently authorized bivalent Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots for younger children at Lehigh Valley Health Network’s COVID-19 vaccination clinics can now be scheduled.

The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech bivalent booster for children as young as five, to be given at least two months following completion of a primary series or prior booster.

The federal agencies also authorized the Moderna bivalent COVID-19 booster for children as young as six, though the Moderna bivalent booster is not provided for those under 18 at LVHN’s COVID-19 vaccination clinics.

Those previously infected with COVID-19 may choose to wait up to three months before getting a bivalent COVID-19 booster vaccine, but at a minimum should be symptom-free and 10 days out from a positive COVID-19 test. A study published in November 2021 indicates that a longer interval following infection improved immune response to vaccination.

The Pfizer-BioNTech bivalent booster vaccine was previously authorized for those 12 and older.

Scheduling initial COVID-19 shots or boosters is required at LVHN COVID-19 vaccination clinics in Hazleton, Pottsville, East Stroudsburg, Whitehall and Lower Nazareth Township.

Scheduling can be completed through MyLVHN, our patient portal, at MyLVHN.org, with the MyLVHN app, or by calling the COVID-19 hotline at 833-584-6283 (833-LVHN-CVD). The hotline is open Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. For more information on COVID-19 vaccinations, visit LVHN.org/vaccines.

With the latest changes, the former monovalent Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is no longer authorized as a booster dose for those 5-11. Both the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech monovalent COVID-19 vaccines continue to be authorized for primary series administration in those six months and older.

The FDA said there is an increased risk for COVID-19 exposure since children are back in school and people are resuming pre-pandemic activities and behaviors.

The FDA also said while COVID-19 tends to be less severe in children, as the various waves of COVID-19 have occurred, more children have gotten sick with the disease and have been hospitalized.

The CDC noted the changes were “critical next steps forward” in the country’s vaccination efforts.

“Right now, we have about 100 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 across LVHN. This virus and pandemic are still with us, and we need to continue to keep up our guard,” said Alex Benjamin, MD, Chief Infection Control and Prevention Officer, LVHN. “That means being vaccinated and then boosted when it’s time. It remains the single biggest factor in helping prevent COVID-19 deaths. The U.S. is still averaging more than 300 COVID-19-related deaths each day.”

The new bivalent COVID booster is available for children at Lehigh Valley Health Network. METROGRAPHICS