The Pfizer COVID-19 booster shot was approved for adolescents ages 12-15 on Monday, January 3. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory panel voted 13-1 in favor of administering the boosters to this age group at least five months after receiving their second vaccination dose.
The CDC also recommended at this time that kids from ages 5-11 who are immunocompromised are administered an extra dose of the Pfizer vaccine. The difference is the waiting period for that group is only 28 days after their second shot. According to the CDC, a booster dose restores effectiveness to 75 percent, where the original two shots are shown as only 35 percent effective against the Omicron variant.
This decision has been made due to COVID-19 cases skyrocketing from many adults and children returning from the holidays infected with the Omicron variant. “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,” says Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.
Research from Israel suggests a Pfizer booster may protect teens from ages 12-15 from the Omicron variant better when given at five months rather than the initial six. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed off on this recommendation and stated, “We now recommend that all adolescents aged 12-17 years should receive a booster shot 5 months after their primary series. This booster dose will provide optimized protection against COVID-19 and the Omicron variant. I encourage all parents to keep their children up to date with CDC’s COVID-19 vaccine recommendations.”
The Pfizer booster recommendation change from six months to five months after the initial vaccination series will result in tens of millions more Americans being eligible for the booster. According to the CDC, only about 33% of eligible people have received the booster. Although the wait for the Pfizer booster has decreased, those who have received Moderna shots are still recommended to wait at least six months.
With the Omicron variant spreading quickly amongst younger people, a record has been set for the total patients hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection in the country. Omicron now accounts for 95% of new cases. COVID-19 cases have increased to over 800,000 cases a week in the U.S.