Children From 12 to 15 Can Get COVID-19 Boosters, Says FDA

If CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, endorses the FDA’s decision, the recommendation can go into effect this week.

Children from 12 to 15 years old can receive a COVID-19 booster shot, according to updated recommendations by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The ruling comes as the Omicron variant continues its rapid spread across America, accounting for 59% of COVID-19 infections as of Saturday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It also comes during a public debate about whether children should return to in-person learning at schools.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, will review the FDA’s recommendation and if endorsed by that agency, the FDA recommendation 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 as well.

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.

This article originally appeared in Contagion®.