WASHINGTON — Federal regulators on Wednesday broadened access to updated coronavirus booster shots to include children as young as 5, hoping to bolster protection against the now-dominant version of the virus.
The revised shot developed by Pfizer-BioNTech previously had been cleared for those 12 and older, while Moderna’s updated booster was available only to those 18 and older. The action by the Food and Drug Administration will expand access to Pfizer’s shot to children as young as 5, and to Moderna’s shot to children 6 and older.
“Since children have gone back to school in person and people are resuming prepandemic behaviors and activities, there is the potential for increased risk of exposure to the virus,” said Dr. Peter Marks, the agency’s top vaccine regulator. While Covid-19 is typically less severe in children than adults, he said, “more children have gotten sick with the disease and have been hospitalized” as the pandemic has progressed.
After the F.D.A.’s action, Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, quickly approved distribution of the booster shots, the final step to make them available to children around the country.