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Feds approve teens for booster shots; DeSantis warns that boosters could be mandated

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Federal health officials on Thursday authorized a third shot of the COVID-19 vaccine for teenagers, ages 16 and 17, as a safety measure to combat variants such as the new omicron that is circulating across the nation.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the federal CDC has expanded the use of booster shots for the Pfizer-BioNTech only for teens of that age.

As COVID-19 boosters continue to become available for more age groups, including individuals 18 and older, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday raised concerns that three COVID  shots could become standard in the nation.

The governor warned that if federal health officials impose vaccine mandates, Americans could be required to receive third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to be considered fully vaccinated. DeSantis said Florida has halted vaccine mandates “pretty much across the board.”

 “If these mandates are allowed, what they would do is they would change what fully vaccinated means," DeSantis said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the Biden administration, said that including booster shots in the definition of fully vaccinated is a matter of “when, not if,”  U.S. News reported on Wednesday.

Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said in a written 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.”

According to Thursday’s press release from the FDA, data show that booster shots will help offer more protection against COVID-19 and health officials concluded that the benefits outweigh the risks of a heart condition called myocarditis in those individuals ages 16 and 17. The CDC also recommended the shots for teens.

CDC Director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a written statement Thursday:

 “Today, CDC is strengthening its booster recommendations and encouraging everyone 16 and older to receive a booster shot. Although we don’t have all the answers on the omicron variant, initial data suggests that COVID-19 boosters help broaden and strengthen the protection against omicron and other variants. We know that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and I strongly encourage adolescents ages 16 and 17 to get their booster if they are at least 6 months post their initial Pfizer vaccination series.”

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