Safety Monitoring of Bivalent COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine Booster Doses Among Children Aged 5-11 Years - United States, October 12-January 1, 2023

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2023 Jan 13;72(2):39-43. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm7202a5.


On October 12, 2022, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) for bivalent (mRNA encoding the spike protein from the SARS-CoV-2 ancestral strain and BA.4/BA.5 Omicron variants) formulations of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccines for use as a single booster dose ≥2 months after completion of primary series or monovalent booster vaccination for children aged 5-11 years (Pfizer-BioNTech) and 6-17 years (Moderna); on December 8, 2022, FDA amended the EUAs to include children aged ≥6 months (1,2). The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that all persons aged ≥6 months receive an age-appropriate bivalent mRNA booster dose (3). The safety of bivalent mRNA booster doses among persons aged ≥12 years has previously been described (4). To characterize the safety of bivalent mRNA booster doses among children aged 5-11 years after receipt of bivalent Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna booster doses, CDC reviewed adverse events and health impacts reported to v-safe,* a voluntary, smartphone-based U.S. safety surveillance system established by CDC to monitor adverse events after COVID-19 vaccination, and to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), a U.S. passive vaccine safety surveillance system co-managed by CDC and FDA (5). During October 12-January 1, 2023, a total of 861,251 children aged 5-11 years received a bivalent Pfizer-BioNTech booster, and 92,108 children aged 6-11 years received a bivalent Moderna booster.§ Among 3,259 children aged 5-11 years registered in v-safe who received a bivalent booster dose, local (68.7%) and systemic reactions (49.5%) were commonly reported in the week after vaccination. Approximately 99.8% of reports to VAERS for children aged 5-11 years after bivalent booster vaccination were nonserious. There were no reports of myocarditis or death after bivalent booster vaccination. Eighty-four percent of VAERS reports were related to vaccination errors, 90.5% of which did not list an adverse health event. Local and systemic reactions reported after receipt of a bivalent booster dose are consistent with those reported after a monovalent booster dose; serious adverse events are rare. Vaccine providers should provide this information when counseling parents or guardians about bivalent booster vaccination. Preliminary safety findings from the first 11 weeks of bivalent booster vaccination among children aged 5-11 years are reassuring. Compared with the low risk of serious health effects after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination, the health effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection include death and serious long-term sequalae (6). ACIP recommends that all persons aged ≥6 months receive an age-appropriate bivalent mRNA booster dose ≥2 months after completion of a COVID-19 primary series or receipt of a monovalent booster dose..

MeSH terms

  • 2019-nCoV Vaccine mRNA-1273
  • COVID-19 Vaccines* / adverse effects
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Child
  • Humans
  • RNA, Messenger
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • United States / epidemiology
  • mRNA Vaccines


  • 2019-nCoV Vaccine mRNA-1273
  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • mRNA Vaccines
  • RNA, Messenger

Supplementary concepts

  • SARS-CoV-2 variants
  • COVID-19 vaccine booster shot