FDA: Fine to Get Booster After Just 5 Months

It also now recommends boosters for kids 12 to 15
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 3, 2022 9:35 AM CST
FDA: Fine to Get Booster After Just 5 Months
A person receives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster shot on Dec. 20, 2021.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

The US is expanding COVID-19 boosters as it confronts the omicron surge, with the FDA allowing extra Pfizer shots for children as young as 12. Boosters already are recommended for everyone 16 and older, 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. How long? The FDA said everyone 12 and older eligible for a booster can get one as early as five months after their last dose rather than six months, reports the AP.

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. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC's director, is expected to rule later this week. The vaccine made by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech is the only US option for children of any age. About 13.5 million 12- to 17-year-olds—just over half that age group—have received two Pfizer shots, according to the CDC.

As for even younger children, kid-size doses for 5- to 11-year-olds rolled out in November, and experts say healthy youngsters should be protected after their second dose for a while. But the FDA also said Monday that if children that young have severely weakened immune systems, they'll be allowed a third dose 28 days after their second. That's the same third-dose timing already recommended for immune-compromised teens and adults. Pfizer is studying its vaccine, in even smaller doses, for children younger than 5. (Read more COVID booster shots stories.)

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