Pfizer and BioNTech are offering a booster shot to people who are 16 and 17 years old at least six months after their primary vaccination, the Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday.


A day before the FDA’s emergency authorization, Pfizer and BioNTech released preliminary results indicating that booster shots offer good protection against the highly mutated omicron variant of Covid-19. 


According to preliminary data, Omicron significantly reduces the protection provided by the initial two-dose series. As a result, boosters offer similar protection against the variant as the two-dose series provided against the original strain of the virus, the results indicated in the lab. 


“As people gather indoors with family and friends for the holidays, we can’t let up on all the preventive public health measures that we have been taking during the pandemic,” said Janet Woodcock, acting commissioner of the FDA. “With both the delta and omicron variants continuing to spread, vaccination remains the best protection against COVID-19.” 


Before booster shots become available to administer to 16- and 17-year-olds, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must approve boosters. A booster shot clearance for adults 18 years, and older went into effect last month.


The U.S. Public Health Service is urging all eligible to get a booster shot amid fears of a winter Covid surge driven by the delta variant and uncertainty about the future course of the pandemic. Leading medical experts found that the initial two-dose series of vaccinations were no longer as effective as they were before the arrival of Omicron.


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