Central CA health officials prepare for possible CDC recommendation of COVID booster for teens

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Young Central California teens could soon get an extra layer of protection from COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention meets Wednesday and is expected to sign off on Pfizer booster shots for 12 to 15-year-olds.

According to Central Valley health leaders, it comes at a crucial time.

The CDC recommended the Pfizer vaccine for children 12 to 15 back in May of last year, which means it's been at least six months since some teens rolled up their sleeves.

"Kids are going back to school after that holiday break," said Dr. Nael Mhaissen. "It's actually very important to give them that extra layer of protection with giving them the booster."

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Dr. Mhaissen is the medical director for infectious diseases at Valley Children's Hospital. He said there are a lot more pediatric cases of COVID-19, partly due to the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

"This past week, we've seen a significant spike in the positive cases coming through the emergency department," Dr. Mhaissen said. "Luckily, not so much coming through the hospital."

According to hospital officials, most of the cases at Valley Children's involve unvaccinated kids, which shows the vaccine is doing its job.

"But getting that booster right now will increase. It's like dialing up the level of protection that you have," said Dr. Mhaissen.

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Health officials stress the vaccine won't prevent someone from getting infected. The purpose is to reduce its severity, so hospitalization isn't necessary, which helps hospitals and healthcare workers stretched to their limit.

The CDC is expected to recommend boosters for the 12 to 15 age group sometime this week, which means shots can be going in arms at Valley Children's by next week.

Dr. Mhaissen said they've had a great turnout for their child vaccine clinics and expect the same demand for Pfizer boosters with the supply to meet it.

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