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Photo: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday expanded its emergency use authorization for Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to include those aged 16 and 17.

Why it matters: The move could expand access to the boosters at a time when there's increasing concern about the Omicron variant.

  • Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that two doses of their COVID-19 vaccine were significantly less effective at neutralizing Omicron in early lab tests, but a three-dose regimen was more effective.

The big picture: The FDA last month endorsed booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for adults.

  • "The booster dose is to be administered at least six months after completion of the primary series and is the same formulation and dosage strength as the doses in the primary series," Pfizer and BioNTech said in a statement.
  • "The booster vaccination increases the level of immunity and dramatically improves protection against COVID-19 in all age groups studied so far," BioNTech CEO and co-founder Ugur Sahin added.

What they're saying: “Vaccination and getting a booster when eligible, along with other preventive measures like masking and avoiding large crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, remain our most effective methods for fighting COVID-19,” acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said in a statement.

  • “As people gather indoors with family and friends for the holidays, we can’t let up on all the preventive public health measures that we have been taking during the pandemic. With both the delta and omicron variants continuing to spread, vaccination remains the best protection against COVID-19.” 

What's next: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must still sign off on boosters for 16- and 17-year-olds before the shots are available to the age group.

Go deeper... Fauci: It's "when, not if" definition of "fully vaccinated" changes

Go deeper

Updated 17 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Teens and adults missed 37 million vaccinations during COVID — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker
Updated Jan 14, 2022 - Axios Twin Cities

Questions about Twin Cities indoor dining vaccine mandates, answered

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Vaccine-or-test mandates for indoor dining go into effect in Minneapolis and St. Paul on Wednesday, Jan. 19. Here are answers to some common questions on the orders:

Q: Are all restaurants covered by the requirement?

A: No, St. Paul's order only covers establishments licensed by the city. That means coffee shops, fast food chains and other places that do not serve alcohol are exempt, according to the Pioneer Press.

Why 401(k) rollovers are so annoying

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If you happened to change jobs recently, you may have tried to transfer your retirement account from your former employer into an Individual Retirement Account or your new employer's 401(k) plan. If so, you probably encountered a bureaucratic gantlet — and you're not alone.

Why it matters: Kludgey processes around retirement account transfers result in people losing track of their funds, giving up important tax advantages, or otherwise disadvantaging themselves and being less prepared for retirement.