COVID News: Pfizer to seek FDA authorization for booster shots for older teens

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information
NEW YORK (WABC) -- Pfizer will soon request FDA authorization to expand its booster shots to 16 and 17-year-olds.

It's already approved for adults age 18 and older.

Pfizer vaccines were authorized for adolescents in May, so some are nearing their six-month mark.

The drug maker is also studying the omicron variant. Pfizer's CEO says the company is prepared to develop a new vaccine if necessary.

Here are more of today's COVID-19 headlines:



FDA endorses Merck COVID pill, paving way for US authorization of 1st at-home drug for virus
A panel of U.S. health advisers on Tuesday narrowly backed the benefits of a closely watched COVID-19 pill from Merck, setting the stage for a likely authorization of the first drug that Americans could take at home to treat the virus.

A Food and Drug Administration panel voted 13-10 that the drug's benefits outweigh its risks, including potential birth defects if used during pregnancy.

Health experts say omicron variant is result of COVID-19 vaccine inequity
The emergence of the new omicron variant and the world's desperate and likely futile attempts to keep it at bay are reminders of what scientists have warned for months: The coronavirus will thrive as long as vast parts of the world lack vaccines.

The hoarding of limited COVID-19 shots by rich countries - creating virtual vaccine deserts in many poorer ones - doesn't just mean risk for the parts of the world seeing shortages; it threatens the entire globe.

NYC schools now offering 2nd dose
Amid overwhelming demand -- and with concern growing over the emerging omicron variant -- New York City is offering second COVID vaccine doses starting Tuesday at its public schools.

In-school vaccination clinics were so popular during the first round earlier this month that the city decided to bring them back to hundreds of schools, including PS 40 in Gramercy. The clinics are offering second doses of the Pfizer vaccine to children as young as 5.

Right now, only 16% percent of NYC school kids age 5 to 11 have gotten their first shot, and officials want to dramatically boost those numbers.

NYC Department of Corrections moves to 12-hour shifts due to vaccine mandate taking effect

The New York City Department of Correction will move to 12-hour shifts as the vaccination requirement for its workers goes into effect.

The longer shifts are intended to assure adequate staffing. 73% of workers are vaccinated.

The union representing correction officers says these longer shifts will negatively impact officers and inmates.

All vaccinated adults should get COVID-19 booster shot because of omicron variant, CDC says
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strengthened recommendations for booster doses of coronavirus vaccine Monday, saying all adults should get boosted six months after the second dose of Pfizer/BioNTech's or Moderna's vaccine or two months after the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

It's a slight but significant tweak to the wording of guidance issued earlier this month when the CDC endorsed an expanded emergency use authorization for boosters from the US Food and Drug Administration.

New Jersey's positivity rate spikes
Gov. Phil Murphy said New Jersey's positivity rate spiked up to 9.23%, which he attributed to more testing over the Thanksgiving holiday.

"The positivity rate which has been running weekdays 4% or 5%, spiked up on Thanksgiving, the assumption I would have is you are not getting tested on Thanksgiving if you are not more than likely having symptoms," Murphy said. "The big test is over the next couple weeks to see if we will see the anticipated spike coming out of the Thanksgiving holiday, Hanukkah or the holidays to come."

US health officials work to answer 3 key questions about the new omicron variant
Americans face at least two weeks of uncertainty before major questions may get answered about the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Health experts urge the public to be cautious and patient as scientists try to find out if omicron -- deemed a "variant of concern" by the World Health Organization -- is more transmissible and dangerous than other forms of the novel coronavirus and whether existing vaccines work against it.

No omicron cases so far in NYC, mayor says
So far there have been no cases of the COVID omicron variant identified in New York City, but "it is very likely there will be," Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday. City health officials remain in close contact with the CDC, the mayor said, and vaccinations will remain a key part of the city's strategy moving forward. Mayor-elect Eric Adams said his administration will be "on the same playbook" requiring vaccinations. "We must get vaccinated in a real way," he said. In addition, the city's health department is recommending masks now be worn at all times in indoor public settings, regardless of vaccination status.

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