The Food and Drug Administration plans to broaden eligibility for Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 booster shots to children ages 12 to 15 in the coming days, a person with knowledge of the plan said.
The omicron variant of the coronavirus continues to spread rapidly in the U.S., accounting for about 58 percent of all new Covid cases for the week that ended Saturday, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Meanwhile, Covid-19 cases among children are increasing, with nearly 199,000 reported for the week that ended Dec. 23, a 50 percent increase over the weekly reported cases at the beginning of December, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The FDA declined to comment.
After the FDA's authorization, the CDC and its advisory committee would be expected to hold discussions before they sign off.
The news of the pending approval was first reported in The New York Times.
Research suggests that the omicron variant appears to be the most contagious strain to date and that it has mutations that allow it to evade some of the protection provided by vaccination or natural infection. A Pfizer booster shot appears to provide a high level of protection against it.
Federal health officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s chief medical adviser, have warned that the new strain could lead to a sharp rise in new infections as the holiday season ends and the nation enters the new year. That could further strain hospitals.
People 16 and up are currently eligible to get booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine six months after their second doses.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, told CNN in an interview Wednesday that the FDA was looking at the issue of booster shots for 12 -to- 15-year-olds and that she hoped the agency would authorize them in the "days to weeks ahead."