Flu: FDA approves vaccine booster in teenagers

Entering adults at least two years after initial vaccination leads to higher potency, less need for boosters, Pfizer says

The US Food and Drug Administration on Monday approved the emergency use of a vaccine booster in teenagers with seasonal flu, a move designed to encourage vaccination ahead of the next flu season.

Entering adults at least two years after initial vaccination leads to higher potency, less need for boosters, Pfizer said.

“Adolescents are at higher risk for complications of the flu, such as hospitalization and death, than any other age group,” said Deborah Autor, director of the division of antiviral products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

In a letter to parents of teenagers, BioNTech said COVID vaccination leads to “significantly lower” morbidity and mortality than traditional flu vaccine.

COVID is the current version of Influenza Vaccine for Intravenous Infusion, designed by BioNTech to prevent seasonal flu infections, following the subsequent COVIG antiviral drug. COVID has already been FDA approved for emergency use in adults at least two years after receiving Fluarix seasonal flu vaccine, as well as in adults 50 and older years after receiving a single dose of Fluarix vaccine.

COVID is given in one dose of vaccine made from the Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) cell line.

Dr Ken Heebner, a physician at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, said the COVID “is a strong injectable vaccine that effectively suppresses influenza in youth aged 16 to 17 years”.

Heebner also said the FDA approval “is expected to bring additional pandemic flu vaccines to this age group”.

The health agency said emergency use authorizations help promote health and safety of people. In recommending COVID, the FDA noted that hegemonic immunity is reduced with adults’ initial seasonal flu vaccines.

“A booster vaccination with COVID is particularly important for adolescents, who are at greatest risk from complications of influenza infection,” said Dr LaMar Hasbrouck, senior vice president of medical affairs at BioNTech.

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