A message from Dr. Richard Friend, Dean of the College of Community Health Sciences

November 4, 2021

We now have more tools to help us curtail the COVID-19 pandemic.

At University Medical Center, patients who meet current guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can now receive a Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 booster shot.

Based on the CDC criteria, people over the age of 65, as well as those aged 18 and older who live in long-term care settings, have certain underlying medical conditions and work or live in high-risk settings, can get a Pfizer or Moderna booster shot six months after their second dose. Anyone 18 and older who has had the first dose of Johnson & Johnson can get a second dose two months after the first shot.

And this week, the CDC recommended the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 through 11. The decision follows that of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which granted emergency use authorization Oct. 29 for the vaccine for younger children.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 through 11 is one-third the dose authorized for those aged 12 and older. In addition, the vaccine is stored in smaller vials and delivered with smaller needles for those smaller arms. Like older children and adults, younger children will return three weeks after the first dose for a second shot.

There are an estimated 28 million children between the ages of 5 and 11 in the U.S.

FDA and CDC authorization for the lower-dose Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for younger children was granted after clinical trials and other studies showed the vaccine to be highly effective (90.7%) in preventing serious illness, with no severe adverse reactions.

While COVID-19 causes less severe illness in children, there is still a burden of infection in these young members of our population. Data shows that nearly two million children ages 5 to 11 in the U.S. have been infected with the virus, and 8,300 have been hospitalized. A third of those hospitalized were admitted to intensive care units, and at least 170 have died.

Along with the individual benefits that accrue to these younger patients, vaccinating children can also suppress transmission of infection for everyone else. And that, coupled with booster shots for adults, can help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus and its potential variants.

The College of Community Health Sciences operates University Medical Center and the Student Health Center and Pharmacy