In a move that was expected, a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) vaccine advisory panel approved giving Pfizer’s COVID-19 booster shot to children ages 12 to 15 on Wednesday (Jan. 5).
The news follows the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approving booster shots for children 12 to 15 on Monday (Jan. 3), as part of their emergency use approval for the Pfizer vaccine.
Up next, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky has to approve the measure before the new rules go into effect. Reports indicated that Walensky is likely to give final approval on the measure very soon.
In addition to the booster shot approval for children, the CDC and FDA shortened the time length between the primary series and booster dose for those with the Pfizer vaccine. Before, the timeline was six months following the second vaccine dose, and now, it’s five months. That’s for adults and children ages 12 and older.
Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine was authorized for emergency use in adolescents in May, so teens who received the shot early on will be eligible for the booster as soon as the new guidelines to into effect. The CDC reports that roughly 13.5 million children ages 12 to 17 have received two Pfizer shots.
The news on boosters being available to children and the shorter timeline for getting boosters comes as the very contagious omicron variant is spreading quickly throughout the U.S. The omicron variant, experts say, is more resistant to vaccines, but vaccines and booster shots have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of hospitalization, severe disease and death. Omicron is also proving to produce more mild cases of COVID-19, but since it’s so contagious, more people are getting it, which is resulting in crowding hospitals in certain areas of the country.
Earlier this week, the U.S. reported a record single-day number of daily Covid cases, with more than 1 million new infections.