The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced it has authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster for ages 12-15 in a news release shared on Monday (January 3).
Additionally, the FDA has also shortened its initial timing of booster shots from six months after the initial series of shots to five months for the age group following recent research from Israel.
The announcement comes amid the spread of the omicron variant, which is being transmitted rapidly in a growing number of younger Americans, as well as many students nationwide set to return to school from holiday break this week.
NBC News reported on Sunday (January 2) that a record number of pediatric patients were hospitalized with confirm or suspected COVID-19 cases.
Studies conducted in Israel involving more than 6,300 participants between the ages of 12 and 15 suggested the booster dose provided better protection from the omicron variant five months after the initial series of shots, rather than the six initially believed.
“With the current wave of the omicron variant, it’s critical that we continue to take effective, life-saving preventative measures such as primary vaccination and boosters, mask wearing and social distancing to in order to effectively fight Covid-19,” acting FDA commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said in the FDA’s news release.
The FDA said it found “no new safety concerns” in relation to booster shots distributed to young teens.
Additionally, the FDA will also include a third vaccine for children ages 5-11 who have specific system deficiencies, including those who have undergone organ transplants, as part of its action on Monday.