FDA authorizes Pfizer booster doses for teens ages 16 and 17

Unlike the mix-and-match approach approved for older populations, the agency only authorized the shots for teens who originally received Pfizer’s vaccine.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has expanded its emergency use authorization of Pfizer’s COVID-19 booster shots to include people ages 16 and 17. The agency said that it has new evidence that vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 wanes after the second dose, including among people in this age group. Boosters will help provide continued protection.

“As people gather indoors with family and friends for the holidays, we can’t let up on all the preventive public health measures that we have been taking during the pandemic,” said acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock in a statement announcing the decision. “With both the Delta and Omicron variants continuing to spread, vaccination remains the best protection against COVID-19.” 

This population will be eligible to get a booster dose at least six months after they were fully vaccinated. Unlike the mix-and-match approach the agency approved for older populations, however, the FDA has only authorized the boosters for teens who originally received Pfizer’s vaccine.

The FDA also said it assessed the safety of the booster doses and determined that the benefits of getting a booster outweigh the risks of myocarditis and pericarditis among people ages 16 and 17.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also signed off on the FDA decision.

Stay up to date and read more on the latest COVID-19 developments here.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to note the CDC’s approval of the decision.

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