COLUMBIA, S.C. – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced January 5 that it recommends children as young as 12 receive a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster at least five months after they finish the primary vaccine series, and the South Carolina Department of Health of Control (DHEC) supports this recommendation for having children “maximally vaccinated” against COVID-19, meaning they have received their initial vaccine series plus a booster.
The DHEC term “maximally vaccinated” is equivalent to the new CDC phrase “up to date” with COVID-19 vaccinations. The definition of “fully vaccinated” continues to mean two weeks since completion of a primary vaccination series.
Previously, Pfizer booster shots were recommended for those 16 and older.
“It’s critical that we keep children as protected as possible against COVID, especially the delta and omicron variants,” said Dr. Edward Simmer, DHEC Director. “This new booster shot recommendation ensures our children are maximally vaccinated against this deadly disease, and boosters are the best opportunity we have for keeping our children safe and healthy in the classroom setting, where we know they thrive. I urge parents and guardians to have their children, 12 and older, receive their Pfizer booster as soon as possible.”
Recent studies show that after getting vaccinated against COVID-19, protection against the virus may decrease over time, especially against the now predominant Omicron variant. Data from several clinical trials show that a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna booster shot increased the immune response in trial participants who finished their primary series five months earlier. With an increased immune response, people should have improved protection against COVID-19, including the delta and omicron variants.
Current COVID-19 booster recommendations are:
- People ages 12 and up who received the Pfizer-BioNTech should get a booster shot five months after completing the initial vaccination series
- People ages 18 and up who received the Moderna vaccine should get a booster shot six months after completing the initial vaccination series
- People ages 18 and up who received a single dose of the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine should get a booster shot two months after the first shot
DHEC continues to very strongly encourage life-saving vaccines for all eligible ages, which include ages 5 and up, and booster shots for all who are eligible. Visit scdhec.gov/boosters for more information, and find a vaccination site near you on our vaccine locator webpage or by calling our Vaccine Information Line at 1-866-365-8110.