(CNN) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the Pfizer / BioNTech covid-19 vaccine for use as a booster in people ages 16 and 17 on Thursday. It is the first booster of the covid-19 vaccine authorized for this age group.
Like adults, 16 and 17 year olds can receive a booster dose six months after their second dose of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine.
About 2.6 million American teens in this age group could already receive the booster dose, a small addition to the 141 million adults who can already receive it.
“Today’s decision by the FDA to extend the Emergency Use Authorization of a booster dose of our COVID-19 vaccine is a critical milestone as we continue to be vigilant in the fight against the virus,” said the president and director. Pfizer General Albert Bourla, in a statement.
“From the beginning, our goal has been to provide strong and secure protection to as many people as possible in an effort to end this pandemic. As new variants, including omicron, emerge around the world, we believe the best way to minimize the spread of covid-19 and any future variants is getting all eligible individuals fully vaccinated with the first series of two doses and a booster dose as recommended. “
“Booster vaccination increases the level of immunity and dramatically improves protection against COVID-19 in all age groups studied so far,” said Dr. Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech. “In the current situation, it is important to give everyone a booster dose, especially in the context of new emerging variants, such as omicron.”
Pfizer’s vaccine is licensed for use in children 5 years of age and older, but previously only adults could receive booster doses.
Now, those over 16 can receive a booster dose of Pfizer six months after their second injection; Moderna vaccine recipients over the age of 18 can receive any booster six months after their second injection; and Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients can receive any booster two months after their single dose. Adults can combine reinforcements; 16-17 year olds can only get the Pfizer booster.
The US health authorities have been pushing for months for Americans to get vaccinated, and since last week the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that all adults should do so.
On Wednesday, Pfizer and BioNTech announced preliminary data suggesting that their two-dose vaccine does not provide sufficient protection against infection with the omicron variant of the coronavirus, although it may continue to protect against severe disease.
However, the companies found that a booster dose increased protection significantly, up to almost the level of protection that their two-dose vaccine provided against the older strain of the virus.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism