Genesee County, MI—The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved updated COVID-19 vaccines for children as young as 6 months old, and those vaccines are now available to Flint residents.
Following the expanded authorization last week, the Genesee County Health Department (GCHD) began offering updated Pfizer vaccines to children between the ages of 6 months and 4 years old on Dec. 13, 2022.
The FDA has also cleared the updated Moderna vaccine for kids between 6 months and 5 years old, but GCHD officials said they hadn’t yet received a supply of those newly-approved vaccines as of press time.
Dr. Brittany Tayler, internist and pediatrician at Hurley Medical Center, said she welcomes the expanded authorization of updated COVID vaccines.
“I think that is amazing, particularly because the main group of children that’s really at risk of hospitalization and severe disease is this 6 month to 5 year old range,” Tayler said. “With the Omicron variant being so prevalent, it’s one of our best shots at preventing hospitalization and severe disease.”
The updated vaccines, also known as bivalent vaccines, target the original coronavirus as well as Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5.
While subvariants BQ.1 and BQ 1.1, which are part of the BA.5 family, have become dominant in Michigan and the country overall, Tayler said the updated vaccines’ broad-based coverage still offer effective protection against COVID.
Under the FDA’s expanded authorization, children 6 months to 5 years of age are eligible to receive an updated Moderna booster at least two months after completing their two-dose primary series of the original Moderna vaccine.
Children 6 months through 4 years old who have not begun or completed their three-dose primary series of the original Pfizer vaccine will receive the updated Pfizer vaccine as the third dose in their primary series after two doses of the original Pfizer vaccine.
Children between 6 months to 4 years old who already completed their three-dose primary series with the original Pfizer vaccine are not eligible for an updated booster at the moment. The FDA anticipates data supporting an updated booster for this demographic will be available in January 2023.
While the COVID community level in Genesee County has been low lately, neighboring areas including Saginaw, Tuscola, Livingston and Oakland counties have seen medium COVID community levels, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
With the holiday season approaching, health officials urge the public to stay up to date on their COVID vaccinations. Best practices also include masking, staying at home and testing if sick, as well as frequent hand washing.
Residents can call the GCHD immunization line at 810-237-4569 to schedule a vaccine appointment.
Vaccines.gov can also help locate sites for COVID vaccines.