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CDC Clears Booster Doses for Children 12 to 15 as Cases, Hospitalizations Soar

PA COVID-19 Hospitalizations Reach All-Time High

January 06, 2022

This week, the nation’s public health agencies have expanded COVID-19 booster eligibility for children between 12 and 15.

The expanded authorization comes as Pennsylvania’s hospitals are reporting a record number of patients with COVID-19 and the U.S. approaches a million daily cases.

On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its booster dose guidelines. The agency now recommends adolescents between 12 and 17 receive a booster shot at least five months after their initial Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination series.

The expanded authorization came after a careful review of data showing the boosters strengthen protection against Omicron and other variants, federal officials said. The CDC’s advisory panel reviewed safety data following the administration of more than 25 million vaccine doses to adolescents.

“This booster dose will provide optimized protection against COVID-19 and the Omicron variant,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC director. “I encourage all parents to keep their children up to date with CDC’s COVID-19 vaccine recommendations.”

The updated recommendations for the COVID-19 booster dose for the three available COVID-19 vaccines are:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech:  People 12 and older are eligible to receive a booster shot five months after their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine
  • Moderna:  Adults are eligible for a booster six months after their second dose of the Moderna vaccine
  • Johnson & Johnson:  Adults are eligible for a booster two months after their initial dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine

Across the commonwealth, more than 2.7 million booster/additional doses have been administered since August.

In Pennsylvania, 6,446 adults were in the hospital with COVID-19 on Thursday, including 1,057 patients in the intensive care unit and 641 on ventilators. This surpasses the previous daily high of 6,346 COVID-19 patients during December 2020. The state’s seven-day average for new cases is above 22,000, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

The seven-day average of U.S. cases is more than 554,000, with a high of nearly 957,000 reported on Tuesday.

“It is great news to see booster eligibility expanded and we know providers are ready to offer more protection for Pennsylvanians,” Dr. Denise Johnson, Pennsylvania physician general, said in a statement. “The Department of Health urges all eligible Pennsylvanians who have yet to get vaccinated to do so immediately and for those people who are eligible to receive a booster shot to get that added level of protection as soon as possible.” 

HAP strongly encourages people to stay up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines. Getting vaccinated provides strong protection against severe outcomes of COVID-19, such as hospitalization and death, and helps reduce the strain our hospitals are facing this winter as they treat patients with COVID-19 and other conditions.

Learn more about available options to get vaccinated in your community.