Omicron is spreading across the U.S., and now, children are one step closer to having an added boost of protection against the COVID-19 variant.
On Monday (Jan. 3), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved booster shots for children 12 to 15, as part of their emergency use approval for the Pfizer vaccine.
In addition to the booster shot approval, the FDA shortened the time length between the primary series and booster dose for those with the Pfizer vaccine from six months to five. That’s for people ages 12 and older.
“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 to in order to effectively fight COVID-19,” acting FDA commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said in a release.
But, there’s one more hurdle before children can get the extra dose. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must also approve the booster, and reports indicate that final approval will likely come later this week. The CDC’s panel is set to meet Wednesday (Jan. 5) to discuss the booster shot recommendation for children.
To aid in their decision, the FDA analyzed safety data from Israel from more than 6,300 children 12 to 15 who got a booster shot at least five months after their first two songs, according to a release. The study showed no additional safety problems after the booster, and that includes no new cases of myocarditis or pericarditis.
The FDA and CDC approved vaccine eligibility to children 12 to 15 eight months ago. So far, out of the Moderna, Johnson & Johnsons and Pfizer vaccines that are authorized in the U.S., Pfizer is the only one approved for children.
According to multiple studies, the booster dose of Pfizer strongly boosters immune response to the omicron variant. The reason for changing the booster dose from six to five months after receiving the second Pfizer dose is to help protect people sooner against omicron, which researches believe is four times as contagious the previous variant, delta.