Pfizer asks FDA to authorize boosters for 16- and 17-year-olds

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Pfizer on Tuesday asked federal regulators to approve a booster shot of its coronavirus vaccine for 16- and 17-year-olds, according to the company’s CEO, Albert Bourla. The request will likely lead to several million teens becoming eligible for an additional injection soon.

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to act quickly at Pfizer’s request, perhaps within a week, according to people familiar with the schedule.

The agency approved the vaccine, developed with BioNTech, on an emergency basis a year ago for anyone 16 and older, and fully approved it for that age group in August. But right now, those 18 or older are eligible for booster shots.

Recipients of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are eligible for the additional injection six months after their second injection. Those vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, a one-time regimen, are eligible for a booster two months after the injection.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2.3 million 16- and 17-year-olds received their second dose of Pfizer’s vaccine at least six months ago. By the end of the year, the number is predicted to reach about three million, or 36 percent of the population in that age group.

After months of fear and division among scientific advisers, the Biden administration’s booster roll-out is now in full swing. All adults were eligible for booster shots on Nov. 19, although the CDC only recommended them for people over 50 and for people 18 and older living in long-term care facilities.

On Monday, the CDC changed its guidelines, urging all adults to receive a booster shot either six months after their second dose of Moderna’s or Pfizer’s vaccine or two months after their Johnson & Johnson injection. President Biden Monday described boosters as part of the government’s strategy to fight the new variant, Omicron.

More than 40 million adults have received an additional injection since the FDA first authorized the additional injections for select populations in late September. According to CDC data, at least 90 million are still eligible for boosters.

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