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CDC vaccine advisers vote to recommend Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 boosters for youths as young as 12

The new recommendation: “A single Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-10 vaccine booster dose is recommended for persons aged 12 to 17 years at least 5 months after primary series under the FDA’s emergency use authorization.”

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky must sign off on the recommendation for it to take effect.

The advisers made the recommendation after hearing research on rare cases of myocarditis and pericarditis in young people who have gotten Covid-19 vaccines and noting that many parents are concerned about long-term side effects of vaccines. They also considered that vaccine uptake among 12- to 17-year-olds has slowed recently and weighed the record numbers of Covid-19 cases in children amid a surge of the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

On Monday, the FDA expanded the emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine boosters to children ages 12 to 15.

Pfizer boosters were previously authorized for people age 16 and 17, and the CDC has already recommended people age 16 and older get boosters.

CDC backs FDA's decision to reduce time between primary series and booster dose of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine

The CDC signed off Tuesday on shortening the booster interval from six months to five months for people who got the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. It has also recommended that moderately or severely immunocompromised 5- to 11-year-olds receive an additional primary dose 28 days after their second shot; only the Pfizer/BioNTech shot is authorized for that age group.

Pfizer’s booster dose contains the same amount of the vaccine as the initial doses: 30 micrograms.

Adolescents ages 12 to 15 became eligible to receive their initial series of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in mid-May, opening vaccinations up to about 17 million additional people.

Now, about half of the 12 to 15 population — about 8.7 million — is fully vaccinated, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 5 million of them have been fully vaccinated for more than five months and are now eligible to receive a booster shot.

Children in this age group represent about 5% of the total US population. They account for about 4% of the fully vaccinated population in the US and about 3% of those eligible to receive a booster shot, according to the latest CDC data.

In October, the CDC recommended that everyone age 16 and up who completed their initial series of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago receive a booster shot, along with those who received their initial Johnson & Johnson shot at least two months ago.

Overall, about 71.6 million people in the US are fully vaccinated and boosted against Covid-19. That’s less than half of the nearly 180 million people who are eligible to receive their booster shot and about a fifth of the total US population. And at least 67.5 million people ages 5 and up have not received their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine, according to the latest CDC data.

CNN’s Deidre McPhillips and Jamie Gumbrecht contributed to this report.

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