Children ages 5 and above are now eligible to receive the bivalent COVID booster shots that are meant to increase protection against variants of COVID-19, Gov. Kathy Hochul on Wednesday announced. 

"Being able to provide the bivalent boosters to an even greater number of children throughout the state will expand protection against the Omicron variants, as we collectively work to stay up to date with these safe, effective vaccinations," Hochul said. "I encourage all eligible New Yorkers to get these boosters to protect themselves, their families, their children, and our communities from this virus as we head into the cold weather months."  

But the number of children that are eligible in New York is expected to be smaller than the adult population. Only 39% of kids ages 5 to 11 in New York have completed the initial two-dose vaccine series. People between the ages of 12 and 17 have a higher vaccination rate of 72.8%. 

Federal health officials have recommended receiving the booster dose at least two months after completing the inital vacccine series or following their last booster or additional vaccine dose. 

Health officials in New York have eased most COVID guidelines, but have sought to encourage New Yorkers to get the bivalent COVID booster to guard against a possible rise in cases during the cold-weather months. 

"The new bivalent booster is the first available made to target the currently circulating Omicron subvariants, offering the most important protection for children and adults yet," said Health Commissioner Mary Bassett. "Getting all your shots is the best way to prevent serious illness and hospitalization. Parents and guardians, please get yourselves and your children boosted as soon as eligible."  

More information on COVID boosters can be found here.