The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended boosters for teens ages 16 and 17 on Thursday, expanding the reach of who's able to get maximum protection against COVID-19. Earlier in the day, the US Food and Drug Administration authorized boosters of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for teens ages 16 and 17 at least six months after their second dose of Pfizer.
The other two COVID-19 vaccines available in the US, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, are authorized only for people age 18 or older. Boosters are recommended for all US adults.
"Today, CDC is strengthening its booster recommendations and encouraging everyone 16 and older to receive a booster shot," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement. "Although we don't have all the answers on the Omicron variant, initial data suggests that COVID-19 boosters help broaden and strengthen the protection against Omicron and other variants."
The expanded authorization for teens comes as worries over the new omicron coronavirus variant mount in the US. The highly transmissible delta variant continues to be the dominant strain in the states. Officials with Pfizer and its partner, BioNTech, have said that booster doses of its vaccine might be necessary to restore protection against COVID-19 caused by the omicron variant.
Health officials maintain that even if protection against COVID-19 infection is evaded by newer variants like omicron, the vaccines are likely still protective against severe cases, including death. According to CDC data from September, unvaccinated people are nearly six times more likely to test positive for COVID-19, and 14 times more likely to die from the disease.
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