On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) extended the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer and BioNTech Covid-19 booster shot to include children aged 12 to 15.
“Throughout the pandemic, as the virus that causes COVID-19 has continuously evolved, the need for the FDA to quickly adapt has meant using the best available science to make informed decisions with the health and safety of the American public in mind,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D.
“With the current wave of the omicron variant, it’s critical that we continue to take effective, life-saving preventative measures such as primary vaccination and boosters, mask wearing and social distancing in order to effectively fight COVID-19.”
The FDA also announced that it is shortening the interval after which people are eligible for a booster shot, moving it to five months post-completion of a primary vaccination series from six months.
This relates to adults, teens, and preteens eligible for a booster who have received the two-dose series of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine.
People who have received the Moderna vaccine still need to wait six months beings being eligible for a booster.
People who have a Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine are urged to get a booster shot two months after their first shot.
The FDA also cleared the way for children aged from 5 through 11 with compromised immune systems to get the third dose.
Clearance for kids 12 through 15 to receive the booster still needs to be approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A panel of independent experts that advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on vaccination policy will meet Wednesday to discuss the policy change.
“The recent rise in COVID-19 cases is concerning to all, and today’s decision by the FDA to further expand the Emergency Use Authorization of a booster dose of our vaccine is critical to help us ultimately defeat this pandemic,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement.
“We continue to believe that broad use of boosters is essential to preserving a high level of protection against this disease and reducing the rate of hospitalizations,” Bourla continued.