The Centers for Disease Control -CDC Director Dr.
Rochelle Walensky cleared the way yesterday for extra booster doses to be given right away to people ages 12 to 15.
The CDC advisory panel earlier in the day had voted 13-1 in favor of recommending that 12- to 15-year-olds get a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, and Walensky quickly endorsed the suggestion.
The extra shot may be given at least five months after conclusion of the original two-dose regimen.
The committee also strengthened its recommendation that 16- and 17-year-olds also should get a booster.
Previous guidance said that age group “may” get a shot.
“It is critical that we protect our children and teens from COVID-19 infection and the complications of severe disease.
I endorsed ACIP’s vote to expand eligibility and strengthen our recommendations for booster doses,” Walensky said.
“We now recommend that all adolescents aged 12-17 years should receive a booster shot 5 months after their primary series.
This booster dose will provide optimized protection against COVID-19 and the Omicron variant.
The Food and Drug Administration authorized the booster earlier this week, basing its decision largely on data from Israel that found no new safety concerns when 6,300 12- to 15-year-olds got a Pfizer booster five months after their second dose.
Booster is considered a crucial weapon against the pandemic as students return to classrooms following winter break amid a historic, omicron-driven surge in cases.
Boosters already are recommended for everyone 16 and older.
The vaccine made by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech is the only U.
option for children of any age.
5 million 12- to 17-year-olds – just over half that age group population – have received two Pfizer shots, according to the CDC.
The committee emphasized that primary vaccinations and masking are even more important than boosters in preventing severe disease and transmission.
Boosters for healthy children are helpful, particularly during the current major outbreak, but less essential, several committee members said.
Immunocompromised adolescents are already entitled to extra shots.
COVID-19: CDC Chief endorses booster for youths age 12 -15