FDA building, Wash. D.C.
FDA building, Wash. D.C.iStock

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Thursday cleared doses of the updated COVID-19 vaccines for children younger than age 5, The Associated Press reported.

“Vaccination is the best way we know to help prevent the serious outcomes of COVID-19, such as hospitalization and death,” Dr. Peter Marks, FDA’s vaccine chief, told AP.

Omicron-targeted booster shots made by Moderna and rival Pfizer already were open to everyone 5 and older.

The FDA now has authorized use of the tweaked shots starting at age 6 months, but just who is eligible depends on how many vaccinations they’ve already had, and which kind. Only about 5% of youngsters under age 5 have gotten the full primary series since vaccinations for the littlest kids began in June.

The FDA decided that:

--Children under age 6 who’ve already gotten two original doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine can get a single booster of Moderna’s updated formula if it’s been at least two months since their last shot.

--Pfizer’s vaccine requires three initial doses for tots under age 5 -- and those who haven’t finished that vaccination series will get the original formula for the first two shots and the omicron-targeted version for their third shot.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to sign off soon on the move, the final step for shots to begin.

In October, the US authorized updated COVID-19 boosters for children as young as five.

Tweaked boosters had already been rolled out for Americans 12 and the previous month.

The updated vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer are combination shots, containing half the original vaccine and half tweaked to match the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron strains that until recently were dominant.