NYC Health + Hospitals today began offering updated COVID-19 bivalent vaccines for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendation that children as young as 6 months receive the updated vaccine that helps protect against the newer variants of the virus. The Pfizer-BioNTech primary series for babies and toddlers is three doses. According to the updated CDC guidance, the first two shots should be the original, monovalent vaccine given three to eight weeks apart. The third dose is given at least eight weeks after the second and, now, should be the updated, bivalent vaccine. The city’s municipal health system will offer the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines for children under the age of 5, and as young as 6 months, in its pediatric practices at all 11 hospitals. New Yorkers can use the City’s Vax Finder or call 877-NYC-4NYC (877-692-4692) to schedule an appointment.
“As a parent, I know how important it is to protect our children from severe illness. That’s why I’m urging New Yorkers to get their little ones vaccinated against new variants as the virus that causes COVID-19 continues to evolve,” said NYC Health + Hospitals President and CEO Mitchell Katz, MD. “The updated shot is safe and effective. We want our children to enjoy the holidays surrounded by loved ones.”
“We are very pleased to make available to our youngest patients the updated, bivalent COVID-19 vaccine” said NYC Health + Hospitals Ambulatory Care Chief Medical Officer Andrew B. Wallach, MD, FACP. “These updated, bivalent vaccines offer the best protection against the current variants of the COVID-19 virus circulating in our communities. Further, they are safe and effective and prevent hospitalization and death from COVID-19.”
Children 6 months through 4 years of age who have already completed their three-dose primary series with the original, monovalent Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will not be eligible for a booster dose of an updated bivalent vaccine at this time, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Children in this age group who already completed their primary series would still be expected to have protection against the most serious outcomes from the currently circulating omicron variant.
Children will be closely monitored for 15 minutes after each dose as is standard for all childhood vaccinations. Children may experience similar side effects to vaccination as adults, with usually mild effects lasting one to two days. A parent or guardian must provide consent for their child to be vaccinated.
Updated COVID-19 vaccines are formulated to protect against some of the more recently circulating viruses. COVID-19 vaccines are critical to providing ongoing protection as immunity wanes and the virus continues to mutate.
NYC Health + Hospitals patients are encouraged to schedule an appointment for their child’s vaccine by calling their pediatrician’s practice directly. Anyone who is not a NYC Health + Hospitals patient can use the City’s Vaccine Finder or call 877-NYC-4NYC (877-629-4692) to schedule an appointment at other locations.