FDA expands use of Pfizer vaccine, OKs boosters for kids 12-15

The FDA authorized Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 booster shots for 12- to 15-year-olds Jan. 3. 

The agency also shortened the length of time between the completion of a primary vaccination series and receiving a Pfizer booster dose from six months to five months for everyone 12 and older, and authorized a third dose for certain immunocompromised children 5 to 11, such as solid organ transplant recipients. 

"Based on the FDA’s assessment of currently available data, a booster dose of the currently authorized vaccines may help provide better protection against both the delta and omicron variants," said Peter Marks, MD, PhD, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. "In particular, the omicron variant appears to be slightly more resistant to the antibody levels produced in response to the primary series doses from the current vaccines." 

A day later, the CDC updated its recommendations, saying Pfizer vaccine recipients should recieve a booster after 5 months and that moderate to severely immunocompromised children 5 to 11 recieve a third shot 28 days after their second. The agency has yet to make a formal decision regarding the FDA's decision to authorize Pfizer's booster shot for 12- to 15-year-olds, with the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices set to vote on the matter Jan. 5. 

The decisions comes as new daily cases nationwide are averaging more than 300,000 for the first time in the pandemic, according to data from The New York Times. The daily average for new cases on Jan. 3 was more than 486,000, a 239 percent increase over the last two weeks. Hospitalizations have grown at a slower rate, increasing about 41 percent to more than 97,0000 as of Jan. 3.  

About 66 percent of Americans 5 and older had been fully vaccinated as of Jan. 4 Meanwhile, nearly 38 percent of adults 18 and older had received their booster, CDC data shows. 



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