The new COVID-19 booster shot is safe for young kids and infants, according to Dr. Sarah Combs with the Children’s National Hospital in D.C.
“We are seeing a lot of children coming through the doors with respiratory illnesses, so I will say top of mind for a lot of parents right now is ‘how can I prevent another illness?'” Combs told WTOP.
Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed the new shots for everyone six months and older, and the agency’s director quickly signed off on the panel’s recommendation earlier this month.
“The main difference to know for parents is that the child doses are lower than the adult doses,” Combs said.
There are three age groups that are taken into consideration with the updated booster: A small dose is given to those between six months and four years old, a medium dose is given to kids five to 11 years old and everyone 12 and older is given an adult-sized dose.
“We do want parents to know that if you take in your six-month-old, they’re getting a dose that is safe for them, that is proven to be safe and effective for an infant,” Combs said.
The severity of the COVID-19 pandemic has faded since 2020, but there are still thousands of hospitalizations and hundreds of deaths recorded in the U.S. each week.
Hospitalizations have been increasing since late summer, although the latest data from the CDC indicates infections may be starting to level off, particularly in the South.
Still, experts worry that immunity from previous vaccinations and infections is fading in many people, and a new shot would save many lives.
“We always talk about this concept of herd immunity, and we want to try and continue to protect ourselves, our elders, our young and our vulnerable or immunocompromised patients,” she said. “The more vaccines that we have on board, the more we can protect everyone around us.”
According to a survey last month the CDC cited, about 42% of respondents said they would definitely or probably get the new vaccine. Yet only about 20% of adults got an updated booster when it was offered a year ago.
Doctors hope enough people get vaccinated to help avert another “tripledemic” like last year when hospitals were overwhelmed with an early flu season, an onslaught of RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) and yet another winter coronavirus surge.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.