ATLANTA (WCIA) — Children now have expanded access to COVID-19 vaccines thanks to a new approval and recommendation from the FDA and CDC.

The FDA amended on Wednesday the emergency use authorizations for Pfizer and Moderna’s updated, bivalent COVID-19 vaccines to authorize their use in children as young as five and six years old, respectively. Shortly after, the CDC officially recommended the vaccines for those ages.

These vaccines are updated booster shots that are protective against two subvariants of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, which are more transmissible and immune-evading than the original COVID-19 strain vaccines were developed to protect against. The updated vaccines are not meant to be used in the primary vaccination series – they are used only as boosters – and can only be administered two months after someone completes their initial series or after their last booster shot.

“Since children have gone back to school in person and people are resuming pre-pandemic behaviors and activities, there is the potential for increased risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19. Vaccination remains the most effective measure to prevent the severe consequences of COVID-19, including hospitalization and death,” said Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D. “While it has largely been the case that COVID-19 tends to be less severe in children than adults, as the various waves of COVID-19 have occurred, more children have gotten sick with the disease and have been hospitalized. Children may also experience long-term effects, even following initially mild disease. We encourage parents to consider primary vaccination for children and follow-up with an updated booster dose when eligible.”

The authorization of the bivalent booster vaccines means that Pfizer’s monovalent booster vaccines are no longer authorized for use in people aged 5 to 11. Moderna and Pfizer’s original COVID-19 vaccines remain authorized for the primary vaccination series in people aged six months and older.