All Americans 16 years of age and over are already encouraged to receive a booster dose. Earlier this week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also cleared an additional injection of Pfizer’s vaccine for children ages 12 to 15, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have yet to approve decision.
Wednesday, the advisers ofCDC voted that a booster dose was safe for young teens and should be offered to them after enough time – five months – has passed since their last injection.
The director ofCDC, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, will assess the panel’s recommendations before making a final decision shortly.
Studies show that a booster dose at least temporarily increases the level of antibodies and offers the best chance of avoiding symptomatic infection, even from the Omicron variant.
The vaccine made by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech is the only option available to American children. About 13.5 million children between the ages of 12 and 17 have already received two injections, according toCDC.
If theCDC authorize it, about 5 million younger adolescents, those aged 12 to 15, would be immediately eligible for a booster dose because they received their last injection at least five months ago.
Children tend to suffer from less severe forms of COVID-19 than infected adults. But hospitalizations of children – the vast majority of them unvaccinated – increased during the wave induced by the Omicron variant.
The main concern for adolescents is a rare side effect called myocarditis, a type of heart inflammation seen mostly in younger men and adolescents who receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. The vast majority of cases are mild – much milder than the heart inflammation that COVID-19 can cause.