FDA Approves Pfizer COVID Booster For 16-And-17-Year-Olds

by Madison Vanderberg

Older teens now eligible for Pfizer’s COVID-19 booster shot

As the holiday season approaches and adults everywhere are heading down to their local pharmacy for a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to boost their immunity against the coronavirus, the latest news is that older teens are the next group eligible to get a boost! On Thursday, December 9, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave emergency authorization for 16 and 17-year-olds to get a booster dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

Obviously, CDC approval is the next, and final, step before your teens can head out to the local pharmacy and get the third dose.

Though like most FDA vaccine approvals, the CDC recommendation always followed shortly after. In fact, The Washington Post states that Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, will sign off on the boosters for teens later today.

This means that 16 and 17-year-olds who received the initial two-shot series of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be able to get a booster six months after their second dose. Just a note that the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are not authorized for anyone under 18.

“Vaccination and getting a booster when eligible, along with other preventive measures like masking and avoiding large crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, remain our most effective methods for fighting COVID-19,” FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said in a release along with the FDA approval.

Boosters may play a critical role in helping control the omicron variant (though data has shown that it causes “mild” illness in the vaccinated), in fact, the top execs and scientists at Pfizer recently stated that the over-18 population may even need to get a fourth dose of the vaccine soon in order to fight the omicron variant. Per a report in Bloomberg, Pfizer expects to have a targeted omicron shot available as soon as March for adults.

The data on whether or not younger kids will need booster shots is still out.

The main reasons why the booster conversation for kids under 16 is still hazy is four-fold: Data on whether vaccine immunity wanes in kids isn’t available yet, kids typically have stronger immune systems than adults, data on whether the booster is safe for kids isn’t available either, and boosters for kids might be too low in the hierarchy of overall vaccine equity. Put simply, young kids will have to wait on boosters and may never need them at all.

It can be a little like playing whack-a-mole trying to figure out who is eligible for what vaccines and what boosters.

To date: All adults over 18, who received any vaccine, are eligible for a booster dose depending on how long ago they received their first dose. All children over age five are currently eligible for their first (or second) dose of the Pfizer vaccine only. And as soon as the CDC signs off (which will hopefully be today), 16 and 17-year-olds will be eligible for a third booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine.