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FDA expands Pfizer boosters for teens as young as 12 as Omicron surges

Published: Jan. 3, 2022 at 10:47 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday, Jan. 3 expanded the emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s COVID-19 booster shot for teens as young as 12.

Boosters are already recommended for everyone 16 and older, and federal regulators decided they’re also warranted for 12- to 15-year-olds once enough time has passed since their last dose.

This comes as thousands of kids in the Capital Area return to school this week. Ochsner Health Regional Medical Director Dr. Aldo Russo said the timing of this announcement was critical.

“The fact that the kids are going back to school is crucial in the decision to make this happen,” said Russo.

FDA vaccine chief Dr. Peter Marks said even though serious illness is uncommon in younger teens, a booster will help them avoid that risk — while also helping reduce the spread of Omicron or any other coronavirus mutant. Dr. Russo agreed.

“This virus probably won’t cause major damage, but on the ones that do, it can be very drastic and dramatic, and even cause some death,” said Russo.

Russo said this is not the final step. The CDC is also looking into recommending the booster for kids even younger than this age group.

“Soon the FDA is going to make the recommendation, I hope, to boost those kids as well,” said Russo.

In the meantime, he said people should continue to follow safety mitigation measure, like wearing a mask and social distancing.

“We’re going to get through this. I’m confident we’ll be in a better place in a few weeks, but we just have to do the right thing, which is social distance, wear your mask, and get your booster,” said Russo.

The FDA also said everyone 12 and older who’s eligible for a Pfizer booster can get one as early as five months after their last dose rather than six months.

Kids who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson shot can get the Pfizer booster.

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