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COVID-19 vaccine booster doses are now recommended for people age 12 years and older following action by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week. This is a crucial step toward strengthening protection against COVID-19 for Ohio’s children as the state is experiencing historic case numbers and hospitalizations.

Now that CDC Director Rochelle Walensky has issued a recommendation for booster dose use for youth ages 12-15 years, Ohio providers may begin to offer booster doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to this age group as soon as practical. These boosters can be given to Pfizer vaccine recipients at least five months after completion of the primary series.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration amended the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine to extend booster dose eligibility to fully vaccinated people ages 12 years and older, and shortened the interval for a booster dose from six months to five months after completion of the Pfizer primary series. In addition, the FDA authorized an additional Pfizer primary dose for certain immunocompromised children ages 5-11 years.

Because the Pfizer vaccine is the only COVID-19 vaccine authorized for any person younger than 18, people age 12-17 years old can only receive a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

Mix-and-match booster doses  ̶  in which fully vaccinated people can choose any of the three vaccines approved for use under an EUA in the U.S. for their booster  ̶  is an option only for adults 18 years and older. It’s important to note the CDC has endorsed the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The recommendation followed a thorough review of the latest evidence on vaccine effectiveness and safety. Most patients should now consider an mRNA primary vaccine series or booster dose due to the remarkable safety and efficacy of these vaccines.

At this time, booster doses are not authorized for any children younger than age 12.