Vaccine experts advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are scheduled on Wednesday to consider whether adolescents 12 to 15 years old should gain access to COVID-19 boosters for the first time.
The experts’ endorsement would be one of the final steps before doctor’s offices, schools and other vaccination sites make booster shots from Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE available to 12- to 15-year-olds.
Until now, only people who are 16 and older have been able to get an extra dose, unless they have a weak immune system.
Health authorities have been trying to make the shots available to younger ages, however, as the omicron variant spreads through communities, sickening hundreds of thousands, and threatens to disrupt schools trying to stay open.
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As part of the effort to make boosters available to 12- to 15-year-olds, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday cleared the shots for the group, among other moves.
Yet the FDA’s move only permits use of the shots outside clinical trials. Many vaccination sites and states wait for the CDC to issue an endorsement before administering the extra doses.
The CDC on Tuesday backed the shots for immunocompromised children 5 to 11 years old, who had also received an FDA green light this week. CDC said it would decide on adolescent boosters after its advisers weighed in.