On Jan. 3, 2022, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) amended the authorization of emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine guidance in three ways:
- Expand booster doses to children 12 through 15 years of age. Booster doses are currently only available to people 16 years of age and older.
- Shorten the time between completion of the primary vaccine series and a booster dose from six months to five months.
- Allow for a third primary series dose for certain immunocompromised children ages 5 through 11.
Several steps must be taken over the next few days before any of these authorizations are implemented in Oregon.
First the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) is expected to review the FDA’s evaluations on Wednesday, Jan. 5, and make official recommendations to the CDC director. If the CDC director recommends moving forward on any of the guidelines, the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup (WSSSRW) will review the data and issue a recommendation for vaccine administration in Oregon, Washington, Nevada and California.
After recommendations pass all the steps through the CDC and the WSSSRW, the Oregon Health Authority will then issue updated guidance for the administration of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
End-to-end, the process may take a few days. All entities are sensitive to the urgency of the decisions but remain committed to the process of ensuring the safety and efficacy of vaccines before they reach the public.