DOVER — COVID-19 vaccine providers can begin administering Pfizer-BioNTech booster doses to individuals ages 12-15 who completed their initial Pfizer series at least five months ago, per Thursday guidance from the Delaware Division of Public Health.
The Food and Drug Administration gave its approval Monday to expand emergency use authorization to allow the Pfizer booster to be administered to this age group. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices met Wednesday and agreed with the FDA findings; CDC director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky endorsed that committee’s recommendations that evening.
In addition, updated CDC guidance released earlier this week shortened the booster interval from six months to five months for people who received Pfizer. The booster interval recommendation for people who received Johnson & Johnson (two months) or Moderna (six months) has not changed.
Individuals younger than 18 are only able to receive the Pfizer vaccine and are not able to mix and match brands for their boosters, as those 18 and older can.
According to CDC data, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are seven and 11 times higher, respectively, in unvaccinated adolescents, compared to those vaccinated in that age sector.
“Given the record number of COVID-19 cases we are seeing in our state and how transmissible the omicron variant is proving to be, this is welcome news,” said DPH director Dr. Karyl Rattay in a statement. “Vaccines and booster doses offer the best protection against infection, hospitalization and death. I urge all Delawareans who are eligible to receive a booster dose to get one now. If you or your children have not received an initial round of the COVID-19 vaccine series, now is the time to protect yourself, your children and those you love. The more Delawareans who are vaccinated and protected against this virus, the better protected we all will be.”
Delaware is averaging 2,515 new cases of COVID-19 per day over the last week. The state is up to a record 666 individuals hospitalized with the virus.
DPH said data from CDC showed that COVID-19 boosters help broaden and strengthen protection against omicron and other variants. FDA and CDC reviewed real-world data from Israel, including safety figures from more than 6,300 individuals 12-15 years old who received a booster dose of the vaccine. The data shows there are no new concerns following a booster in this population. There were no new cases of myocarditis or pericarditis reported in these individuals to date.
FDA and CDC also moved to allow moderately or severely immunocompromised 5–11-year-olds to receive an additional primary dose of vaccine 28 days after their second shots. At this time, only Pfizer is authorized and recommended for children ages 5-11. Children in this age group who have undergone solid organ transplantation or who have been diagnosed with conditions that are considered to have an equivalent level of immunocompromise may not respond adequately to the two-dose series and could benefit from a third dose.
FDA previously authorized a third dose for use as part of the primary immunization series in individuals 12 and older.
DPH said it encourages providers to use their clinical judgment and to consider additional factors for their patients when determining if they meet the qualifications for immunocompromised status and are, therefore, eligible for additional/third doses of the vaccine.
DPH recommended that those eligible for a vaccine or booster seek them at existing locations, including pharmacies, health care providers, federally qualified health centers, DPH clinics and DPH’s four standing sites — the Blue Hen Corporate Center in Dover, Georgetown Plaza, Canby Park in Wilmington and University Plaza in Newark.
For a complete list of locations where vaccines are available, visit here.