The US Food and Drug Administration has announced it will allow extra Pfizer shots for children as young as 12, thus expanding its COVID-19 boosters rollout as it confronts the Omicron surge.
Boosters are already recommended for everyone 16 and older in the US, and federal regulators on Monday decided they’re also warranted for 12-to-15-year-olds once enough time has passed since their last dose.
But the move, coming as classes restart after the holidays, isn’t the final step.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must decide whether to recommend boosters for the younger teens.
CDC’s director Dr Rochelle Walensky is expected to rule later this week.
The FDA also said everyone 12 and older who’s eligible for a Pfizer booster can get one as early as five months after their last dose rather than six months.
“Real-world data from Israel racked more than 6,300 12-to-15-year-olds who got a booster there at least five months after their second Pfizer dose and found no serious safety concerns,” the FDA said.
Likewise, the FDA said even more data from Israel showed no problems with giving anyone eligible for a Pfizer booster that extra dose a month sooner than the six months that until now has been US policy.
Vaccines still offer strong protection against serious illness from any type of COVID-19.
But health authorities are urging everyone who’s eligible to get a booster dose for their best chance at avoiding milder breakthrough infections from the highly contagious omicron mutant.