Austin Public Health awaits further guidance for recently authorized booster shots for ages 12-15

Photo of child receiving vaccine
Austin Public Health officials said the health agency is ready to administer booster shots to 12- to 15-year-olds when it receives guidance from the state and national authorities. (Courtesy Dell Children’s Medical Center)

Austin Public Health officials said the health agency is ready to administer booster shots to 12- to 15-year-olds when it receives guidance from the state and national authorities. (Courtesy Dell Children’s Medical Center)

Updated 8:30 p.m.:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in a Jan. 5 news release that it has expanded its booster recommendations to include 12- to 15-year-olds.

The release states that children in the age group should receive a booster shot five months after their initial Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination series.

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

Original story:


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration expanded authorization for 12- to 15-year-olds to receive one booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, according to a Jan. 3 news release.

After reviewing data from a real-world study in Israel, the FDA determined that the benefits of authorizing the booster shot outweigh the potential risks.

“With the current wave of the omicron variant, it’s critical that we continue to take effective, life-saving preventative measures such as primary vaccination and boosters, mask wearing and social distancing in order to effectively fight COVID-19,” acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said in the release.

Austin Public Health is now awaiting further guidance before making the booster shots available locally for 12- to 15-year-olds.

“When expanded eligibility is approved at the national level, we require guidance from [the Texas Department of State Health Services]. The guidance usually goes from National -> State -> Local. Once we’ve received that guidance we’ll begin following those expansions,” an APH spokesperson said in an email.

APH interim Director Adrienne Sturrup said the health agency will be ready to administer the doses when it receives the required guidance.

“We know that there was initial approval for booster shots for the 12-and-up group, and we're waiting for the final recommendations from [the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices], but once that comes through, we will be ready at all of our sites to provide a booster dose to everyone who is eligible,” Sturrup said during a Jan. 4 joint meeting with the Austin City Council and Travis County Commissioners Court.

The news comes as the omicron variant has rapidly spread in Central Texas with APH officials saying the variant accounts for 84.9% of cases circulating in the community.

The APH indicators have continued to trend upward with the seven-day moving average of hospitalizations reaching 74 as of Jan. 5. While APH guidance remains at Stage 4, that number is within the Stage 5 range.

As a part of its announcements, the FDA also shortened the time between the primary vaccination of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and a booster dose from six to five months and also granted authorization for a third primary series dose for certain immunocompromised 5 to 11 year olds.
By Benton Graham

Metro Reporter, Austin

Benton joined Community Impact Newspaper as a metro reporter covering transportation in Central Texas in June 2021. Benton's writing has appeared in Vox, The Austin Chronicle, Austonia and Reporting Texas. Originally from Minneapolis, Benton graduated from William & Mary and eventually moved to Austin in 2018.