The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized a fourth dose of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for people 50 and over.
Previously a fourth dose was only authorized for people 12 and up, who are badly immunocompromised.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control will not weigh in on how to implement the FDA’s authorization.
People wanting the fourth shot should only do so at least four months after the previous booster, the FDA said Tuesday.
The FDA’s authorization comes as COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are falling after a winter surge of the omicron variant.
However, a new subvariant, BA.2, is spreading in Europe and the U.S.
Roughly two-thirds of Americans are fully vaccinated, meaning they’ve had two doses of Pfizer or Moderna or one dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Only half of those eligible have gotten a first booster.
While the vaccines did not stop omicron from circulating widely, health officials say they did help those infected avoid serious illness or death.
The government is also considering authorizing a fourth dose for everyone in the Fall when cases could surge again.
Some information in this report comes from The Associated Press.