HOUSTON (KIAH) – The updated COVID-19 booster is now available for kids as young as 5 years old. Dr. Christina Johns, a pediatrician specializing in pediatric emergency care at PM Pediatric Care, sees firsthand the impact COVID-19 is having on children. She sat down with CW39’s Idolina Peralez to discuss the recently authorized bivalent vaccine.

Q: Dr. John’s, you actually have seen a lot of kids come through your pediatric emergency care facility, a lot of them still dealing with COVID. But a lot of parents I’m talking to say they’re a little bit iffy on this booster because it was approved rather quickly compared to the original vaccine. How was it possible for the bivalent booster to get approved by both the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention so fast and on the same day?

A: I think it’s really important to remember that this formulation is nearly identical to the original product. The only thing that’s different is the coding of the mRNA. And so that is really such a small piece that we don’t have any reason to think that the safety profile will be any different. 

For example, the flu shot gets changed every year, but we don’t test the flu shot every year. We already know that millions of people and very young children have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine very safely.

Q: So, what do you tell parents that are on the fence about the booster? 

A: I really encourage parents to lean into their pediatrician. That is the person who knows their child, knows their family history, and medical history the best. They can give you guidance that is solid and tailored for your child.

Q: And they need both initial shots to get the booster, right?

A: That’s correct. It’s important to remember that children do need to get the first two to three doses, depending on the on the product, whether it’s Moderna or Pfizer. So, you do need to get the original series before you’re eligible to get the omicron booster.

Dr. Johns shares more on the rising respiratory viruses and more health issues that impact children on her Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok accounts.