The agency also recommended that some
immunocompromised children ages 5 to 11 receive an additional primary vaccine
shot 28 days after the second shot, matching the guidance for similar people 12
and older. Pfizer’s vaccine is the only one authorised for paediatric use in
the United States.
The endorsements come on the heels of the authorisation
of the same steps by the Food and Drug Administration on Monday.
The FDA also cleared 12- to 15-year-olds to receive
boosters of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The CDC’s vaccine advisory committee
is set to meet Wednesday to discuss whether to recommend that step.
The CDC and the FDA share responsibility for setting
the nation’s vaccine policy, and have worked to present a unified front in
their reviews of booster shots. If the advisory committee does follow the FDA’s
lead, the CDC’s director, Dr Rochelle P Walensky, is expected to quickly sign
off on the recommendation.
The moves come at a time when the fast-spreading
omicron variant is infecting record numbers of Americans each day, and many
hospitals in the United States are already deluged with COVID-19 patients with
the earlier delta variant.
Federal guidance has not changed for when to seek
booster shots after initially receiving the Moderna vaccine (six months after the
second shot) or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine (two months after the single
More than 70% of people in the United States who are
12 or older have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
In total, at least 1.9 million adolescents between 12
and 15 have tested positive for the virus, according to the CDC. Children who
get infected with the coronavirus are less likely to develop serious illness
than adults are, but they can still become very sick and even die.
The FDA noted that data from Israel showed no serious
safety concerns in thousands of 12- to 15-year-olds who received a third dose
of the Pfizer vaccine. There were no reports of myocarditis, a very rare side
effect linked to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that has been seen mostly in younger
men. The condition involves inflammation of muscle tissue in the heart.
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