The FDA has authorized use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine booster in 16- to 17-year-olds. As the new omicron variant spreads in the US, the CDC recommended that teens in this age group get the added protection of a booster six months from their initial shots.

“Vaccination and getting a booster when eligible, along with other preventive measures like masking and avoiding large crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, remain our most effective methods for fighting COVID-19,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D. “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. With both the delta and omicron variants continuing to spread, vaccination remains the best protection against COVID-19.”

The FDA had previously authorized the use of a single booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine to all individuals 18 and older on November 19. The booster is given after primary vaccination with any FDA-approved COVID vaccine. This new expansion of the booster shot’s use is meant to further protect people against COVID, especially during the holidays when people tend to gather. Those 16 and 17 years old should only receive the Pfizer vaccine as their booster dose.

“The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine has been available to individuals 16 years of age and older for nearly a year, and its benefits have been shown to clearly outweigh potential risks,” said Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “Since we first authorized the vaccine, new evidence indicates that vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 is waning after the second dose of the vaccine for all adults and for those in the 16- and 17-year-old age group. A single booster dose of the vaccine for those vaccinated at least six months prior will help provide continued protection against COVID-19 in this and older age groups.”

The third dose is identical to the previous two shots and increases immunity against COVID. A study released by Pfizer and BioNTech showed only weak protection against the new omicron variant after two shots but suggested protection would be fully restored after a third shot.

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