Covid-19 boosters: Kids and teens need them less, Fauci says. This is why

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 those injections at least six months ago, and a booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is recommended for adults who took a single shot at least two months ago.

“We don’t know yet if kids need boosters. But we’re actively working on research to answer that question,” said Dr. Flor Munoz, pediatric infection specialist at Texas Children’s Hospital, one of the sites in Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine trials.

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

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

Adolescents may need boosters at some point, but “it’s less likely they will, because your healthy, determined teens have a much better and stronger immune response than I do as an older person. I swallow when I say elderly, but that is the truth,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN’s John Berman on Wednesday.
Corona vaccines help the body to develop protection or immunity, against the coronavirus that causes Covid-19. That immunity may wane over time, but a booster dose of vaccine helps to rebuild that immunity.

For adults, Fauci recommends anyone age 18 and older who has been fully vaccinated with the original regimen to receive a booster shot because of waning immunity.

When it comes to immunity in adolescents, “they may take a much longer period of time to start to decline,” Fauci said. “They have a very robust immune system, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they have protection well beyond those six months.”

While there have been several recent studies document the waning immunity observed in fully vaccinated adults, there is not much data over time on immunity in vaccinated adolescents. Having that data—particularly weighing the safety and benefits of boosters for this age group—could be helpful in considering whether adolescents might need booster doses.

“We don’t yet have enough data specifically on the adolescent population to recommend boosters for all adolescents,” Dr. Saju Mathew, a family physician and public health specialist in Atlanta, told CNN on Thursday.

“At this point, I probably won’t personally recommend that my adolescent population get a booster shot,” Mathew said, because there’s that 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, come with a small risk of heart inflammation in young people.

“However, I have some adolescents with underlying medical conditions,” Mathew added.

“So, if a 17-year-old has severe asthma, maybe cystic fibrosis, or especially some sort of underlying lung condition, I would without a doubt recommend a booster shot,” he said. “But I don’t feel comfortable giving a universal, broad recommendation for all adolescents at this point, until we have enough data.”

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