FDA Approves Booster Shot for 12-15 Year Olds

Samantha Elkins, News Editor

As students return to school from winter break, the Omicron variant has contributed significantly to a surge in recent COVID-19 cases. On Monday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration officially approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster shot for 12-15-year-olds. The FDA also released new information, approving a shorter waiting period for one to be eligible to receive the booster. The waiting period changed from six months to five months after one’s last dose.

The new year began with a boom in Omicron cases due to its high transmissibility rate. However, Omicron is less severe than other variants. Growing evidence confirms that the variant infects the throat, not the lungs as compared to Delta and previous variants, contributing to its contagiousness. Health officials continue to echo that although Omicron is less life-threatening, severity is also measured through contagiousness. On Monday, the U.S. officially hit one million COVID-19 cases — further stressing the importance of getting vaccinated and tested, as well as continuing to wear masks. 

After the FDA reviewed a study conducted in Israel, they stated their confidence in lowering booster eligibility to the 12-15-year-old age group. The study stated that “no new safety concerns” from the vaccine threaten this age group. In addition, findings confirmed no new cases of myocarditis or pericarditis, the inflammation of the heart or surrounding tissue, reported in those who received the booster. 

Moreover, child hospitalization rates have jumped recently, with reports showing that by the end of the week on Dec. 28, 378 children were admitted to the hospital with COVID-19.  As hospitalization rates continue to increase, health care workers become more exposed to the highly transmissible variant and as a result, have a higher chance of infection. Currently, 20% of the healthcare force is in a quarantine period right now, shrinking access to on-site health care services. 

Health officials urge all those eligible to get vaccinated and boosted. In order to find out where one can receive the booster shot or a vaccine nearby, click here.  For more information on COVID-19 and immunizations, click here.