NYC Health + Hospitals now offering updated COVID-19 booster for infants and children

A nurse prepares a syringe of a COVID-19 vaccine
A nurse prepares a syringe of a COVID-19 vaccine at an inoculation station.
(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

The NYC Health + Hospitals announced today that the updated Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, otherwise known as the bivalent booster, is now available for infants as young as six months old to children up to four years old.

The booster, which targets both the original COVID-19 virus strain and variants, is being administered to both adults and children who have completed their first three doses. The third dose must have been injected at least two months prior to receiving the update.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines will be available at the pediatric practices at all 11 NYC Health + Hospital locations across the city.

“The best way out of this pandemic is by making sure that everyone in your family, even the little ones, have the most updated protection against COVID-19,” said Mitchell Katz, president of NYC Health + Hospitals. “Most New Yorkers have completed their primary series. We have to keep that momentum going. The vaccine is safe and effective for people of all ages.”

The updated bivalent booster builds upon the previous vaccinations. It aims to prevent recipients from contracting the virus, while reducing the chances of serious illness, hospitalization or death— should someone contract COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The bivalent boosters are designed to protect against the original strain and the omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5, which have been found to be especially contagious. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added COVID-19 vaccines to its child immunization schedule on Feb. 10. The schedule, which determines which vaccines healthcare providers will administer, recommends two or three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as the booster, for children as young as six months old. 

“As the virus continues to mutate and pose new challenges to our public health, it’s important that parents use whatever tools necessary to shield their kids from the worst COVID-19 outcomes,” said Andrew Wallach, ambulatory care chief medical officer at NYC Health + Hospitals. “It appears the worst is over but we are not in the clear yet. This virus is still very real and the youngest New Yorkers are always at a higher risk of infection because their immune systems are not fully developed.”

Governor Kathy Hochul provided a pandemic update on March 24 and encouraged New Yorkers to be up to date on vaccines now that it’s spring. 

“With Spring beginning and warmer weather ahead, New Yorkers must continue to be vigilant and use all available tools to keep themselves, their loved ones and their communities safe and healthy,” Hochul said in a statement. “Get boosted and stay up to date on vaccine doses, be sure to test before gatherings or travel and if you test positive, talk to your doctor about potential treatment options.” 

Children may experience similar side effects of vaccination as adults, with usually mild effects lasting one to two days, according to NYC Heath + Hospitals.

New Yorkers can call NYC Health + Hospitals at 1-844-692-4692 to schedule an appointment.