vaccine supplies on a table
Oregon teens ages 16 and 17 are now eligible for Pfizer booster shots. Motoya Nakamura / Multnomah County

Oregon’s immunization advisory panel approved booster doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for people ages 16 and 17 Thursday. Healthcare providers and vaccine clinics are approved to administer shots to newly eligible teens who completed their original vaccine series at least six months ago effective immediately.

The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup—a group of experts tasked with guiding Oregon’s immunization decisions—approved the expanded eligibility Thursday afternoon after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) both authorized the boosters earlier in the day.

Pfizer is the only vaccine that can be used as a booster dose for youth ages 16 and 17. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster vaccines are approved for people 18 and older.

While booster shots were originally only recommended for people who are more at risk for contracting COVID, the CDC started recommending everyone who is eligible for a booster get the shot after the Omicron variant was discovered in the US earlier this month. While health authorities are still learning about the new variant, preliminary data shows that Omicron may be more transmissible than the Delta variant, but causes milder symptoms. According the CDC, the Omicron variant has not been detected in Oregon.

Appointments for booster shots at large pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens, and Albertsons are booked several weeks out. For Portlanders trying to secure booster doses before gathering with others for the holidays, Multnomah County maintains a list of low barrier, walk-in vaccine clinics offering first, second, and booster doses.

“It’s great news that now even more Oregonian adolescents are eligible for booster shots,” said Governor Kate Brown in a press release. “We know the measures that are effective in protecting against COVID-19 and variants: vaccinations, boosters, and masks. These measures are key to ending the pandemic and keeping our friends and loved ones safe.”