If you’ve had trouble keeping up with the latest on COVID-19 — the variants, the vaccines, the masks and the mandates — you’re not alone. Parents, especially, have reported pandemic whiplash from divergent and changing recommendations as caseloads climb and recede.
According to an ongoing national online survey of more than 2,000 randomly chosen U.S. parents of children under 18, 70% of mothers and 54% of fathers report feeling overwhelmed. Since this new data almost mirrors the results from March 2020, it seems that parents in the United States aren’t much clearer on the details than they were two years ago when the pandemic began.
Some of the most recent COVID-19 recommendations relate to kids and booster shots. But, like everything related to the pandemic, the information is a bit murky. That’s why we’re here to help shed some light on what parents need to know.
What is a booster?
Because the immunity we build from an original vaccine can fade over time, an additional dose of the vaccine is sometimes needed to “boost” our protection against a virus or disease. Boosters not only help us to reduce our chance of getting sick; they can also lessen the severity of our symptoms and illness.
It may also be helpful to know that vaccine boosters aren’t new. The shots our kids receive before going to elementary school are great examples. Those are boosters of vaccines they received when they were babies and toddlers that have been designed to give them additional protection now that they will be in school.
Does your child need a COVID19 booster?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), everyone 12 and older should receive a COVID-19 booster shot. If your child is 12 or older and has received their vaccine, they should get their booster at least five months after receiving their second dose. It’s important to note that, as of right now, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only booster authorized by the CDC for kids 12 to 17.
Does your child need a booster if they’re under 12?
For the time being, boosters are only authorized for kids 12 to 17. However, if your child is between the ages of 5 and 11 and has a medical condition that weakens their immune system, they may be eligible for an additional dose of the vaccine 28 days after their second shot. This is not considered a booster, though. It simply means their vaccine series includes three doses instead of two.
Your child may need a third dose if he or she:
Talk to your doctor if you believe your child needs an additional vaccine dose.
Find the latest updates
As parents continue to navigate the COVID-19 crisis, communication remains critical. For the most up-to-date information on guidelines related to boosters and vaccines, visit the CDC’s site. Families can also find information that’s specific to them and learn the latest advice as it’s released.
Jean Murray is director of infection prevention and epidemiology at Luminis Health.
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