The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has expanded eligibility for booster doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to include adolescents ages 12 to 15. The agency also announced that all people can now get a booster dose five months after they were fully vaccinated rather than the six month interval that was originally authorized.
Additionally, the FDA authorized a third dose of Pfizer’s vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 with certain conditions that compromise their immune systems, including those who have undergone solid organ transplants.
The FDA has determined that these steps are necessary to help combat the spread of the Omicron variant, which has driven a surge in cases that has already surpassed last year’s winter peak. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in a statement that the data show that an additional dose may provide better protection against the Omicron and Delta variants.
The FDA also said that real-world data from Israel’s vaccination campaign shows no new safety concerns for a booster dose in the younger teenage population, with no new cases of myocarditis or pericarditis reported to date.
In a press conference following the announcement, Marks also urged everyone who has not been vaccinated yet to do so, emphasizing that even a single dose can help prevent the worst outcomes of COVID-19. “It’s not too late to start to get vaccinated,” he said.