FDA expands Pfizer boosters to more teens as omicrons soar



The US is expanding its COVID-19 boosters as it faces an omicron rise, with the FDA allowing additional Pfizer injections for children under 12 years of age.

Boosters have been recommended for everyone 16 years of age and older, and federal regulators on Monday decided they were also warranted for 12- to 15-year-olds after enough time has passed since then. their last dose.

But the move, until classes restart after the holiday season, is not the final step. CDC must decide whether to recommend boosters to adolescents. Dr Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, is expected to take the helm later this week.

The FDA also says that everyone 12 years of age and older who is eligible for a booster shot can get a shot as early as five months after their last dose instead of six months.

Vaccines still provide strong protection against serious illnesses caused by any type of COVID-19. But health authorities are encouraging all who qualify for a booster shot to have the best chance of avoiding milder breakout infections from the highly contagious omicron mutant.

Children tend to get less seriously ill from COVID-19 than adults. But the number of children hospitalized is growing in the omicron wave – most of them unvaccinated.

The vaccine made by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech is the only US option for children of all ages. According to the CDC, about 13.5 million teenagers ages 12 to 17 — just over half of that age group — have received two Pfizer shots.

For families hoping to keep their children as protected as possible, the increased age limit has raised questions.

Older teens, 16 and 17 years old, were eligible for the boosters as early as December. But initial vaccinations were opened to teenagers, ages 12 to 15, back in May. That means those first in line in the spring, possibly in the millions, were about many more months past their last dose than slightly older teenagers.

For even younger children, the children’s dose for 5 to 11 year olds was released more recently in November – and experts say healthy children should be protected for a while after a second dose. time. But the FDA also said on Monday that if young children have severely weakened immune systems, they will be allowed a third dose 28 days after the second. It is at the same time that the third dose has been recommended for adolescents and adults with weakened immune systems.

Pfizer is working on its vaccine, in a smaller dose, for children under the age of 5.

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Aila Slisco

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