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Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus booster shots for people at high risk of severe COVID-19 and people 65 years and older.

Driving the news: The approval comes just days after an FDA advisory panel recommended boosters for the two groups but overwhelmingly voted against the third shots for younger Americans.

  • The approval also applies to people ages 18 to 64 "whose frequent institutional or occupational exposure" puts them at high risk for contracting the virus.

The big picture: The White House had hoped to begin administering boosters to many Pfizer recipients, including young Americans, this week.

  • Some health experts were frustrated that the administration announced its plan before the shots went through the regulatory process.
  • Several experts on the FDA advisory committee said last week that they hadn't seen enough data to justify boosters for the general population.

What's next: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will likely issue guidance on boosters after a key advisory panel votes on the third doses. That vote is expected on Thursday.

Go deeper

Dec 5, 2021 - Health

CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise"

Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/Getty Images

CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Sunday said that the number of Omicron coronavirus cases in the United States is "likely to rise."

Why it matters: The newly discovered variant has already been detected in at least 15 states, fueling concerns about the strain's ability to drive up a new wave of infections.

Prosecutors “haven’t ruled out” charging school officials in Michigan shooting

Michigan school officials had the legal grounds to search alleged shooter Ethan Crumbley's backpack and locker but did not to do so, Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald told CNN Monday.

Catch up quick: Crumbley has been charged with numerous felony counts related to terrorism and murder after opening fire at Oxford High School, killing four students and wounding seven other people.

Stuck jet stream brings blowtorch December in Lower 48, frigid Alaska

Short-term climate outlook for Dec. 13-19, 2021, from the Climate Prediction Center at NOAA. (NOAA/CPC)

The Lower 48 states have seen record-shattering warmth so far this December, with temperatures running as high as 35°F above average for this time of year. The warmth has been so pronounced that during the weekend, brush fires broke out in a snowless, unusually mild Denver metro area.

The big picture: The jet stream, which is a river of air that rides at about 30,000 feet along the temperature contrast between air masses, steering storms as it goes, has been stuck in a position well north of the continental U.S., keeping storms and cold weather at bay.

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