Fauci says children and teens are less likely to need boosters

Originally Posted: 25 NOV 21 12:25 ET

By Jacqueline Howard, CNN

(CNN) – Now that the United States has rolled out Covid-19 booster shots to all fully vaccinated adults, some parents have wondered if or when their vaccinated teens might get a booster dose of vaccine – and researchers are working to get an answer soon.

Currently, a booster dose of the Pfizer / BioNTech or Moderna coronavirus vaccines is recommended for all adults who completed the original two-dose series of these shots at least six months ago, and a booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is recommended for adults who completed a single shot at least two months ago.

It was about six months ago – in May – when the US Food and Drug Administration approved the emergency use of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine for adolescents aged 12 to 15 years, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the vaccine for this age group. Shots began to go in the arms shortly after.

“We do not yet know if children will need boosters. But we are actively working on the study to answer that question,” said Dr. Flor Munoz, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Texas Children’s Hospital, one of the sites in Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine trial.

Munoz wrote in a text message to CNN on Thursday that “it is part of the study’s design to follow children at different times after receiving two doses of vaccine.”

The pediatric investigations are underway and “data should be available next year,” Munoz added.

Young people may need boosters at some point, but “they are less likely to because your healthy, restrained teens have a much better and stronger immune system than I have as an adult. I suck when I say older, but that’s the truth, “Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN’s John Berman on Wednesday.

Coronavirus vaccines help the body develop protection, or immunity, against the coronavirus that causes Covid-19. That immunity may diminish over time, but a booster dose of vaccine helps build that immunity again.

For adults, Fauci strongly encourages anyone aged 18 and over who has been fully vaccinated with the original cure to get a booster shot due to the declining immunity.

When it comes to immunity in young people, “it may be that they will go a much longer period before they start to wane,” Fauci said. “They have a very robust immune system. So I would not be surprised that they will have a protection that will go far beyond the six months.”

While there have been several recent studies documenting the declining immunity observed in fully vaccinated adults, there have not been many data on immunity in vaccinated adolescents over time. Having this data – specifically weighing the safety and benefits of boosters for this age group – can be helpful when considering whether teens need booster doses at all.

“We do not yet have enough data specifically about the young population to recommend boosters to all young people,” said Dr. Saju Mathew, an Atlanta-based primary care physician and public health specialist, told CNN Thursday.

“At this point, it’s not likely that I would personally recommend that my young population get a booster shot,” Mathew said, given the lack of data – coupled with how children have a lower risk of severe Covid 19 than adults – and the mRNA coronavirus vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, have a low risk of heart inflammation in adolescents.

“But I have some young people with underlying medical conditions,” Mathew added.

“So if a 17-year-old has severe asthma, maybe cystic fibrosis, or some form of underlying lung disease, in particular, I would no doubt recommend a booster shot,” he said. “But I’m not comfortable giving a universal, broad recommendation to all young people at this point until we have enough data.”

The-CNN-Wire ™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia company. All rights reserved.

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