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Teens Ages 16 and 17 Can Now Get COVID-19 Booster Shots

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The FDA and CDC announced yesterday that Pfizer’s COVID-19 shot can now be used as a booster for 16- and 17-year-olds. Until now, boosters were only approved for ages 18 and up.

Pfizer, you’ll recall, was the first COVID vaccine that was authorized—and is now fully approved—for people ages 16 and up (and is now emergency-use authorized for kids ages 5-15). The other COVID vaccines are for people 18 and up. But the rules and recommendations for boosters didn’t include 16 and 17-year-olds at all, until now.

The CDC recommendations now say that everyone 18 and up should get a booster, while 16- and 17-year-olds can get a booster. (The language around boosters has been getting stronger each time the recommendations are tweaked. At first, people over 65 were a “should” and most others were a “may.”)

The options for teens are a bit different than those for adults, since Pfizer is the only COVID vaccine approved for people under 18:

  • If you are over 18 and originally got Pfizer or Moderna, you can get any vaccine as a booster.
  • If you are 16 or 17, you would have originally gotten Pfizer, and your only booster option is Pfizer.
  • People younger than 16 are still not recommended to receive a booster. Don’t be surprised if this changes eventually.

If you (or your child) got a Pfizer vaccine at age 17 and are now 18, you don’t have to stick with Pfizer for the booster. Recommendations are based on your current age, and 18-year-olds who originally got Pfizer can get their booster in any flavor. As with adults, the timeline for boosters is to get it six months (or more) after finishing your primary series.

With new information suggesting that boosters can help our immune system protect against Omicron in addition to the previous variants, now is the perfect time to get a booster if you’re due—and consider getting a flu shot while you’re at it.