FDA authorizes Pfizer COVID-19 booster shot for individuals aged 12 to 15


Sabrina Zhu

A pharmacist prepares a Pfizer booster shot on January 15 at the Los Gatos Safeway Pharmacy. The FDA approved of administration of the booster to children aged 12 to 15 on January 3.

by Lavanya Subramanian and Tiffany Chang

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanded the availability of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster vaccine to children between ages 12 and 15 on Jan. 3. 

This authorization followed after the FDA reviewed data from Israel that revealed no new risks associated with the booster dose for individuals in this age range.

Along with lowering the age requirement for the booster dose, the FDA shortened the time required between receiving the second primary vaccine dose and the booster dose from six to five months and also authorized a third dose of the vaccine for immunocompromised children aged five to 11.

“In particular, the omicron variant appears to be more resistant to the antibody levels produced in response to the primary series doses from the current vaccines,” said Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, in an FDA news release. “With this in mind, the FDA has extended the range of individuals eligible to receive a booster, shortened the length of time between the completion of the Pfizer primary series for individuals to receive a booster and is authorizing a third protective vaccine dose for some of our youngest and most vulnerable individuals.”

A total of 526 million booster shots have been administered in the U.S. as of Jan. 15. Sophomore Arjun Gurjar received his first two doses of the Pfizer vaccine last spring and his booster on Jan. 9.

“I got the booster because it provides extra immunity, and there’s no downside to doing it,” Arjun said. “I had no side effects besides some pain in my arm that was very mild. I’m still slightly wary going to school, but more or less, I feel safe, especially with the booster.”

Data from clinical trials shows that those who received the booster shot six months after the primary dosage of Pfizer or Moderna or two months after the primary dosage of Johnson and Johnson demonstrated an increased immune response to the virus. 

“There’s good reason to believe that we will need to be boosted pretty regularly in the future, but how that plays out is going to depend a lot on how the virus has evolved, as well as how the booster has evolved,” upper school biology teacher Mike Pistacchi said. “Pfizer just announced that by March, they’ll have a booster that’s omicron specific. So the question is going to be, ‘should we get that one? Does it matter and is it helpful?’”