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COVID VACCINE: US expands Pfizer COVID boosters, opens more doses for 16-year-olds

ATLANTA (AP) – U.S. health authorities said Thursday that 16- and 17-year-olds should get a booster dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine when they’re six months past their last shot.

The United States and many other countries have encouraged adults to get a booster shot to boost immunity that can wane months after vaccination, calls to boost when concerns are discovered. new omicron variant.

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.

Boosters are important considering that protection against infection diminishes over time, and “we are facing a variant that is likely to require more immunity to be acquired. protection,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, told The Associated Press.

About 200 million Americans are fully vaccinated, including about 4.7 million 16- and 17-year-olds, many of whom received their first shot in the spring and will be eligible for a booster shot.

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. But Walensky said the CDC and FDA will be closely monitoring data on children 12 to 15 years old because if they end up needing boosters, “we’ll again want to act quickly.”

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 is not yet clear how the vaccine will fight new and distinctly different omicron mutants. 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.

“Revaccination increases immunity levels and significantly improves protection against COVID-19 in all age groups studied to date,” said BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin in a statement. An announcement.

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.

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Associated Press reporter Matthew Perrone contributed to this report.

https://kdvr.com/news/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccine/us-expands-pfizer-covid-boosters-opens-extra-dose-to-age-16/ COVID VACCINE: US expands Pfizer COVID boosters, opens more doses for 16-year-olds

Emma Bowman

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