US expands Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots, opens more doses for 16-year-olds

U.S. health authorities said on Thursday that 16- and 17-year-olds should get a booster dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine six months after they’ve had their last shot.

US and many other countries have urged adults to get a booster shot to boost immunity that can wane months after vaccination, calls to step up as worrying new omicron variant is discovered .

On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency authorization to 16- and 17-year-olds for the third dose of a vaccine made by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech. And hours later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lifted the final hurdle — saying those teens should get a booster shot as soon as it’s time.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told The Associated Press that boosters are important considering that protection against infection will diminish over time, and “we’re facing a potentially deadly variant.” require more immunity to be protected.”

Dr Janet Woodcock, acting commissioner of the FDA, said: “Vaccination and booster shots when eligible, along with other precautions such as face coverings and avoiding large crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, remain important. our most effective methods to combat COVID-19,” said Dr. Janet Woodcock, acting FDA commissioner, in a statement.

The Pfizer vaccine is the only option in the United States for anyone under the age of 18, either for initial immunization or for use as a booster. It is not yet clear whether adolescents under 16 years of age may need a third dose of Pfizer.

Immunizations for children under 5 years of age just started last month, using special low-dose Pfizer shots. This week, about 5 million children aged 5 to 11 received their first dose.

The extremely contagious delta variant is causing nearly all COVID-19 infections in the United States and much of the world. It remains unclear how the vaccine will fight the new and distinct omicron mutant. But there is strong evidence that boosters offer a giant leap in protection against the infections caused by delta, which are currently the biggest threat.

Complicating the decision to extend boosters to 16- and 17-year-olds is that the shot of Pfizer – and a similar vaccine made by Moderna – is associated with a rare side effect. Called myocarditis, it’s a type of heart inflammation that’s mostly seen in young men and teenagers.

The FDA says the increased COVID-19 cases in the US mean the benefits of the booster far outweigh the potential risks from rare side effects, especially the coronavirus itself. more serious heart disease.

Health officials in Israel, which already supplies the booster to teenagers, said continued side effects were rare with the third dose.

A US study this week provided additional reassurance. Researchers from children’s hospitals around the country examined medical records and found that rare side effects are usually mild and people recover quickly. The study was published Monday in the journal Circulation.

Copyright © 2021 by Associated Press. Copyright Registered. US expands Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots, opens more doses for 16-year-olds

Dais Johnston

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