16 and 17-year-olds can receive a booster shot for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved the additional dose Thursday.
The Food and Drug Administration gave emergency authorization for 16- and 17-year-olds to receive a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine, as long as it has been at least six months since they received their second dose.
The CDC issued their guidance hours later, “encouraging everyone 16 and older to receive a booster shot.”
“Although we don’t have all the answers on the Omicron variant, initial data suggests that COVID-19 boosters help broaden and strengthen the protection against Omicron and other variants,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement. “We know that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and I strongly encourage adolescents ages 16 and 17 to get their booster if they are at least six months post their initial Pfizer vaccination series.”
The move comes as the new omicron variant of the virus is spreading at the same time that the extra-contagious delta variant continues to wreak havoc in the U.S., the AP reports. The Pfizer vaccine — which was made along with their partners at BioNTech — is the only vaccine available to those younger than 18 in the U.S.
While it is unknown how effective the vaccine is against the omicron variant, the evidence used by officials suggests boosters offer a jump in protection against delta-caused infections, which are currently the biggest threat.
“The booster vaccination increases the level of immunity and dramatically improves protection against COVID-19 in all age groups studied so far,” BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin said in a statement.
200 million Americans are fully vaccinated, including about 4.7 million 16- and 17-year-olds, many of whom got their first shots in the spring and would be eligible for a booster.
Vaccinations for children aged 5 – 11 began last month. About 5 million children in that age range have received at least their first dose.