“I think it will happen,” the source close to the plan said, adding that there is “growing concern within the FDA” that US data is starting to show more hospitalizations in people under 65. years who have been fully vaccinated.
Last month, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cleared booster shots for people aged 65 and older who received their second injection of the Pfizer vaccine at least six months ago. For younger people, the booster is only allowed for certain groups, such as those with certain health conditions or those in jobs that put them at high risk of contracting Covid-19.
While boosters for Moderna have yet to be approved, a group of FDA advisers last week recommended that Moderna be given the same rules as boosters from Pfizer. They also recommended that people of all ages who have received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine be given a booster, which is also awaiting clearance, two months after their initial injection.
If the FDA ultimately supports lowering the age of boosters, then the plan would be submitted to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for approval. Vaccine advisers from that agency are meeting this week to discuss Covid-19 booster injections.
As the colder months approach, experts have warned that the best way to control the spread of Covid-19 is with vaccination. But there have been obstacles reaching the level of the vast majority of the population needed to get vaccinated.
“Yes, the vaccine protects you, but (what) protects you even better is that everyone around you is vaccinated,” CNN medical analyst Dr Leana Wen said this week. “We get vaccinated as healthy people in part to protect the most vulnerable among us.”
And for vulnerable populations, experts said a booster dose may be helpful in maintaining protection or reaching adequate levels for people who might not be able to develop a sufficient immune response with their initial doses.
Declining numbers among children, but experts remain concerned
Rates of severe illness are lower in children than in other age groups, but health officials are still concerned about pediatric infections.
More than 1.1 million cases of coronavirus infection have been diagnosed in children in the past six weeks, the group said.
A total of 6,177,946 cases of children in total have been reported since the start of the pandemic, and children account for 16.4% of all cases.
“The available data indicates that hospitalizations and deaths associated with COVID-19 are rare in children,” the group adds.
Children are also less likely than adults to become seriously ill. Hospitalizations have been reported in 24 states and New York. Children represented between 1.6% and 4.2% of the cumulative total of hospitalizations. Between 0.1% and 2.0% of all child cases resulted in hospitalization, according to the report.
The CDC reports that 691 children have died from Covid-19.
Currently, vaccines are only available for children as young as 12, but new data shows that adolescents who get vaccinated are well protected.
Schools try to test instead of isolating exposed students
Many students across the country are still not eligible for the vaccine but are back in their classrooms – leaving officials and experts to navigate keeping them safe in groups.
Some schools have enforced strict quarantine and isolation policies for children exposed to the virus, but the CDC is working with some school districts across the country to assess test programs to stay, which involve testing – instead of putting in quarantine – students who may have been exposed to Covid-19 at school.
If the exposed students are negative and have no symptoms, they can continue to attend school in person. If they are positive, they should isolate themselves at home.
“At Marietta, we’ve been following students who test positive through the test to stay, and it’s 3%,” Grant Rivera, principal of Marietta City schools in Georgia, told CNN Monday.
“Three percent of our students who take the test to stay are positive, which means we can keep 97% of them in class,” Rivera said. “It’s a measure of success.”
Under a traditional quarantine program, the 97% of students who tested negative would still stay home after school.
“I think for the foreseeable future we’ll be here every morning on a school day to make sure our kids have that option,” Rivera said of the test to stay.
The CDC notes on its website that testing to stay can be a practice consisting of regular testing and contact tracing, but it’s also while “maintaining other layered prevention strategies, such as universal masking,” to reduce the spread of Covid-19 “.