What to know about FDA-authorized COVID-19 booster for teens

Coronavirus

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Following authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for a Pfizer booster shot for people ages 12-15 Monday, Austin-area pharmacists have outlined next steps for immunizing members of the community.

While the FDA has granted its approval for the booster dose, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still has to formally approve the authorization before providers can begin administering the doses.

Rannon Ching, pharmacist-in-charge at Tarrytown Pharmacy, said the timing of this expansion is particularly poignant, given the spread of the omicron variant and Central Texas students returning to schools this week following the holiday break.

“It’s going to be a very important time for us to make sure that we can get kids protected and make sure that they’re not transmitting it to family members people that aren’t vaccinated or more susceptible to severe disease,” he said.

Ching said the pharmacy is prepared to roll out the doses once the CDC gives the official green light. Alongside the FDA’s booster approval, the administration also recommended lowering the booster eligibility time frame from six months post-vaccination to five months.

But what happens if you get a booster shot before that five month window ends? He said while there aren’t any notable side effects associated with getting a booster early, it has more to do with the efficacy of the original vaccine dose waning.

Once someone has been fully vaccinated with their original round of doses, the effectiveness of the vaccine lasts for approximately five months, he said. After that five month period ends, that’s when people are strongly recommended to receive that additional “boost” in antibodies via a third dose.

“It’s not really a safety concern that you might get a dose early. It’s really about how long the protection is,” he said. “They’re starting to see [the vaccine] wane after that five-to-six month range, and so they went ahead and made it a little bit earlier to get your booster dose, so that you can re-up your protection.”

As for the size of the dose administered, Ching said those in the 12-15 age range can likely expect to receive a full booster dose equivalent to the original two doses.

“Right now, the data all is looking at not like a half dose or anything,” he said. “It looks like it’s going to be the same dosage as the first two shots of Pfizer, and now it’s just the third booster dose of that.”

Elsewhere, a spokesperson for CVS Health said the company’s pharmacies will be ready to roll out third doses for teenagers once given formal CDC approval. A Walgreens spokesperson said no details on booster expansions are available at this time.

KXAN also reached out to Austin Public Health for comment on booster roll outs. We will update this story once a response is received.

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