On Monday, the FDA extended the emergency use approval for Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine enhancers to children ages 12 to 15. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP) voted 13-1 earlier Wednesday to recommend extended use of Covid-19 boosters for children in this age group.
The CDC had authorized the Pfizer / BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for use as a booster between the ages of 16 and 17 in December.
The ACIP recommendation came after members heard research on rare cases of myocarditis and pericarditis in young people who have received Covid-19 vaccines and noted that many parents are concerned about the long-term side effects of vaccines. They also considered that vaccine intake among 12- to 17-year-olds has declined recently, weighing the record number of Covid-19 cases in children in the midst of an increase in the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
The CDC signed on Tuesday to shorten the booster interval from six months to five months for people who received the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine. It has also recommended that moderately or severely immunocompromised 5- to 11-year-olds receive an extra primary dose 28 days after their second shot; only the Pfizer / BioNTech shot is authorized for that age group.
Pfizer’s booster dose contains the same amount of vaccine as the starting doses: 30 micrograms.
Young people aged 12 to 15 were eligible to receive their first series of the Pfizer / BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in mid-May, opening vaccinations to around 17 million additional people.
About half of the population between 12 and 15 – about 8.7 million – are now fully vaccinated, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 5 million of them have been fully vaccinated for more than five months and are now eligible to receive a booster injection.
Children in this age group represent about 5% of the total American population. They make up about 4% of the fully vaccinated population in the United States and about 3% of those eligible to receive a booster shot, according to the latest CDC data.
In October, the CDC recommended that adults who had completed their first series of the Pfizer / BioNTech or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago received a booster injection, along with those who received their first Johnson & Johnson shot at least two months ago. .
In total, around 71.6 million people in the United States have been completely vaccinated and boosted against Covid-19. Less than half of the nearly 180 million people eligible to receive the booster shot and about one-fifth of the total U.S. population. And at least 67.5 million people aged 5 and up have not received their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine, according to the latest CDC data.
CNN’s Deidre McPhillips, John Bonifield and Jamie Gumbrecht contributed to this report.
Correction: An earlier version of this report misinterpreted the month of October as when Covid-19 vaccine boosters were recommended for children ages 16 and 17 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It has been updated to reflect that the agency recommended Covid-19 booster shots for adults in October.