WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the new COVID-19 boosters for children as young as 5 years old. The decision was followed by a recommendation from CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.
“Updated COVID-19 vaccines add Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 spike protein components to the current vaccine composition, helping to restore protection that has waned since previous vaccination and targeting recent Omicron variants that are more transmissible and immune-evading,” the CDC wrote in a statement.
The agency added: “FDA’s authorization of updated (bivalent) COVID-19 vaccines for this younger age group, and CDC’s recommendation for use, are critical next steps forward in our country’s vaccination program—a program that has helped provide increased protection against severe COVID-19 disease and death.”
PROMINENT PEDIATRICIAN DISAGREES
But a member of the FDA’s Vaccine Advisory Committee did not agree with the decision to approve the bivalent boosters.
Dr. Paul Offit is one of the country’s most prominent pediatricians. He serves as director of the Vaccine Education Center and professor of pediatrics in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. In addition, he is the Maurice R. Hilleman Professor of Vaccinology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
“We really need much better data, I think, before we move forward on this, and I can only hope that it’s coming,” Dr. Offit said in a video that has gone viral on Twitter. “I feel very strongly about my ‘no’ vote there, in fact, the only reason I voted ‘no’ was that ‘hell no’ wasn’t a choice […] The fix was in here a little bit, maybe that’s not the right phrase, but it was something that they wanted…” he added.
“I DIDN’T SEE THE BENEFITS”
As previously reported by The Florida Standard, the bivalent boosters only rely on data from testing on eight mice.
“I don’t think you should ever ask tens of millions of people to get a vaccine based on mouse data,” Dr. Offit stated in an interview with NBC 10 Philadelphia on August 22.
“Do the benefits of this vaccine outweigh the risks? I didn’t see the benefits,” Dr. Offit said.