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Coronavirus Update: Health official says updated COVID-19 boosters likely to be available in weeks for elementary school-age children

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A Food and Drug Administration official said this week that updated COVID-19 boosters for 5- to 11-year-olds will be authorized in the coming weeks, according to ABC News

The new boosters developed by BioNTech
BNTX,
+1.22%

/Pfizer
PFE,
+1.79%

and Moderna
MRNA,
-0.53%

protect against the original strain of the virus as well as the newer BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, which make up about 85% of all cases worldwide right now. 

“I’m confident that we’re only a matter of weeks away,” Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said Tuesday at an event. 

The shots are expected to roll out to different age groups much as have been seen before. They will likely be available first for 5- to 11-year-olds first and then for younger children. 

That said, COVID-19 vaccine uptake for children has been low. Only about 9.3 million children younger than 12 years old are fully vaccinated. There are about 43 million children in the U.S. who are 10 years old or younger.

Other COVID-19 news to know: 

Royal Caribbean Group
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+2.01%

said Thursday that demand for the cruise operator remains “strong,” with bookings “significantly outpacing” prepandemic 2019 levels. The company said easing the COVID-19 testing and vaccination requirements for most of its cruises had an “immediate positive impact” on bookings for 2022 and 2023. – Tomi Kilgore

Moderna is “eager” to supply its COVID-19 vaccine in China, according to Reuters. Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel recently said the company has talked with the Chinese government about selling vaccines there, though no plans have been formalized.

Washington state employees may get $1,000 bonuses if they get a COVID-19 booster shot, according to the Associated Press.

The daily average of new COVID-19 infections in the U.S. was 55,954 on Wednesday, according to a New York Times tracker. That’s down 22% from two weeks ago. The daily average of hospitalizations was 30,686. About 419 people in the U.S. are dying every day. – Ciara Linnane

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