White House battles pandemic fatigue in vaccine push



Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech have submitted an application asking the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization of their omicron-adapted bivalent COVID-19 vaccine as the third shot in a three-dose series for children ages 6 months through 4 years, the companies announced Monday. 

If authorized, the children would still receive two doses of the original vaccine, and then a third dose that specifically targets the omicron variant of the coronavirus. 

The bivalent omicron vaccine targets the BA.4/BA.5 omicron strains, as well as the original strains of COVID-19. The vaccine is authorized for use as a booster dose only in adults and children over the age of 5.

“With the high level of respiratory illnesses currently circulating among children under 5 years of age, updated COVID-19 vaccines may help prevent severe illness and hospitalization,” the companies said in a statement.

Respiratory illnesses like flu, RSV and COVID-19 are spiking early this year, overwhelming hospitals across the United States.

The monovalent shot, which the FDA still requires as the primary series before getting the omicron-specific shot, targets the original strain of the virus. 

BA.5 was the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the U.S. over the summer, but is now fading away.

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