The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Wednesday that booster doses from Pfizer and BioNTech SE are now available to children aged 12 to 15.
The decision came after a panel of outside experts advising the CDC decided earlier this year to propose that COVID-19 vaccine booster injections be made available to children aged 12 to 15.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted 13 to 1 to recommend that booster injection be given to children aged 12 to 15 at least five months following their second dose.
The CDC's recommendation for boosters for ages 16 and 17 should also be strengthened, according to the panel. The organization had previously offered the shots but had stopped short of recommending that they all get the extra shot.
The CDC now recommends that adolescents aged 12 to 17 years old get a booster dose 5 months following their initial Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine series, according to a statement.
The fast-spreading Omicron version of the virus has caused 19 cases in the United States to reach new highs in recent days. As more workers and schoolchildren return from vacations, infection rates are rising, threatening overburdened health systems as well as closed companies and institutions.
Dr. Katherine Poehling, a professor at Wake Forest School of Medicine, said, "COVID is overwhelming our hospitals and our children's hospitals," "This is a tool we need to use and help our children through this pandemic."
The Omicron strain of the virus affected vaccinated youngsters aged 12 to 15 who were five to six months past their second dosage at the same rate as unvaccinated children, according to data presented at the meeting by Israel's Health Ministry. According to the findings, the infection rate reduced dramatically after receiving a booster dose.
Given the recent rise in instances, Dr. Peter Marks, a leading regulator at the US Food and Drug Administration, believes it is fair to expand the boosters to 12- to 15-year-olds.
The FDA had approved the additional doses U.S. FDA approves Pfizer's COVID-19 booster for 12- to 15-year-olds on Monday, but the CDC had to sign off before the shots could be given out.
In a statement, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said, "This booster dose will provide optimized protection against COVID-19 and the Omicron variant,"
Due to rare incidences of heart irritation termed myocarditis associated with both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccinations, particularly in young males, several scientists are concerned about the booster shots.
While data on myocarditis after booster doses for ages 12 to 15 is limited, the FDA has said that research from the United States and Israel indicates that the risk of myocarditis in men aged 18-40 is much lower following booster shots than after the second vaccine dose.
The Israeli Health Ministry announced on Wednesday that just two incidences of myocarditis were reported among 44,000 teenagers aged 12 to 15 who received a third dosage of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.