Booster doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine are now available to adolescents ages 12 to 15 after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday endorsed a recommendation from an agency advisory panel.
The agency now recommends that adolescents receive a booster shot five months after their initial Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination series.
"It is critical that we protect our children and teens from COVID-19 infection and the complications of severe disease," CDC Director Rochelle WalenskyRochelle WalenskyNew CDC studies show boosters provide strong protection from omicron variant The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks, Senate balks The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Voting rights week for Democrats (again) MORE said in a statement.
"This booster dose will provide optimized protection against COVID-19 and the Omicron variant. I encourage all parents to keep their children up to date with CDC’s COVID-19 vaccine recommendations," Walensky added.
Adolescents ages 12 to 15 became eligible to receive their initial series of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in mid-May. The CDC backed boosters for older teenagers in December.
About 5 million children are now eligible.
Overall, only about half of those who are eligible for a booster shot have received one.
According to CDC data, there are still at least 67 million people over the age of 5 in the U.S. who have not received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The omicron variant has resulted in an increase in children hospitalized for COVID-19, largely because of its transmissibility, as it infects more of the broader population.
Studies have shown a booster dose can help limit the severity of infection in adults, though even without a booster dose, adolescents have been found to have less severe illness than adults. It's also unclear what the effectiveness of boosters is among adolescents, though it is thought the additional shot helps prevent infection.
Vaccinating children and the adults around them is crucial to prevent them from getting ill.