For the first time, people under the age of 18 may soon be eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot in the U.S.
On Tuesday, Pfizer CEO and Chairman Albert Bourla said the vaccine maker had submitted its request to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to expand the emergency use authorization of a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to include 16- and 17-year-olds.
Bourla made the announcement on Twitter, saying that "it is our hope to provide strong protection for as many people as possible, particularly in light of the new variant" — a reference to omicron, which has not yet been detected in the U.S.
At the moment, only people 18 and older are eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot in the U.S., and it must be at least six months after receiving a second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Adults 18 and older who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can get a booster after two months.
In October, Pfizer and BioNTech announced the results of a randomized study of 10,000 people 16 years of age and older that showed a booster dose "restored vaccine protection against COVID-19 to the high levels achieved after the second dose," according to a press release from the companies.
Pfizer's effort to expand eligibility for boosters to some adults under 18 comes as top federal health officials are urging all Americans who qualify to get a booster shot.