The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday recommended that youths age 12 to 17 receive the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine booster.
"It is critical that we protect our children and teens from COVID-19 infection and the complications of severe disease," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. "I encourage all parents to keep their children up to date with CDC's COVID-19 vaccine recommendations." There are 16.7 million adolescents in the United States, and about half are fully vaccinated, The Washington Post reports.
The highly contagious Omicron variant is fueling a surge in COVID-19 cases across the U.S., and the country's seven-day case average hit 580,000 on Wednesday. Walensky said that data shows boosters "help broaden and strengthen protection against Omicron and other variants" in both children and adults. The number of children hospitalized with COVID-19, while still relatively low, is now higher than the previous record set last summer during the Delta surge, the Post reports.