FDA Recommends COVID-19 Boosters for Children 12 and Older

The FDA now recommends Americans 12 years and older receive COVID-19 booster shots. Additionally, they moved to shorten the time in between the second and third dose from 6 months to 5 for Pfizer-BioNTech recipients.

Today, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanded their COVID-19 booster shot recommendations, allowing anyone as young as 12 years old to receive an additional dose for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

In light of the rapid spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, the FDA is not only approving but recommending all eligible Americans receive a booster.

This decision will be reviewed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky, and if endorsed, could go into effect as soon as this week.

Booster doses, a third shot for Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna recipients or a second shot for Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) recipients, were previously indicated for all persons 16 and older. Now, children 12-15 may be eligible for booster shots for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Additionally, the FDA lowered the wait time in between the second and third doses for Pfizer-BioNTech recipients, from 6 months to 5.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only approved COVID-19 vaccination for children 12-17 years old, so if the CDC agrees, children 12 and older can and should receive a third Pfizer-BioNTech dose 5 months after their second.

The Omicron variant has proved more effective at causing breakthrough infections among vaccinated individuals, which prompted federal health agencies to move quickly to approve booster doses as soon as they are proven safe and effective.

Children are less likely to experience severe or fatal COVID-19 disease, but becoming vaccinated may inhibit them from taking up valuable space in already overcrowded hospitals, and can prevent them from spreading the virus to immunocompromised individuals.