Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guides at Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.
According to The New York Times, the FDA is expected to expand authorization for COVID-19 vaccine booster vaccinations on Monday so that children between the ages of 12 and 15 can receive the third dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
In addition, the FDA plans to allow both adults and adolescents to receive a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine five months after receiving a second dose instead of the current six-month waiting period. The agency is also likely to approve booster vaccinations for children ages 5-11 with immunodeficiency.
The CDC’s Vaccine Advisory Committee will meet mid-next week to vote on whether the changes are recommended. If the committee is in agreement with the FDA’s decisions, Rochelle Walensky, MD, director of the CDC, is expected to support the changes, the newspaper reported.
The FDA had hoped to announce the decision as early as Thursday but agreed to wait until Monday as Walensky said it wanted to hear recommendations from the CDC’s advisory committee, the newspaper reported.
The step to expand booster authorization is intended to intensify the fight against the contagious Omicron variant, which has triggered a record high number of cases in the USA
The FDA based its decision in part on data from Israel that showed no safety concerns for thousands of children between the ages of 12 and 15 who received a third dose of Pfizer, the newspaper reported. The data showed that there were no reports of myocarditis. Myocarditis is a rare side effect that causes inflammation of the heart muscle. It has been seen in some younger men after receiving a COVID-19 vaccination.
The FDA is also deciding, based on the Israeli data, to approve a booster dose as early as five months after the second dose, the newspaper reported. The data showed that the shorter interval is effective.
Nearly 66% of people 5 years and over who are eligible for a vaccine are fully vaccinated, according to the latest CDC data, including 71% of people 12 and over. About 36% of adults received a booster dose.
Although younger groups are less likely to get severe COVID-19, hospitalizations of children are increasing and public health experts are calling for vaccination for all eligible individuals, including children.
“All you have to do is go to any children’s hospital, practically anywhere in the country, and you see children there who are suffering, some even dying, who would not have to be in that situation if they were vaccinated,” said Anthony Fauci. MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Thursday in NewsNation’s Morning in America.
“Almost all, not 100%, but almost all of the children seriously ill with COVID-19 in our hospitals are children whose parents have chosen not to have them vaccinated,” he added. “That is avoidable.”
The New York Times: “FDA plans to allow 12-15 year olds to get Pfizer boosters.”
CDC: “COVID-19 Vaccinations in the United States.”
NewsNation Now: “Tomorrow in America, Fauci: Arguments against vaccinating children make no sense.”