NEW ORLEANS — Teenagers as young as 12-years-old could soon be eligible for one of the COVID vaccines. Next week, the FDA is expected to extend emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine to more adolescents.
It's now only approved for anyone 16 and older. This comes as coronavirus cases are rising in children.
From the New Orleans Convention Center, to all of six of its hospital-based vaccine sites, LCMC says it is ready to vaccinate teens and pre-teens when the FDA and CDC give the green light to the Pfizer two-dose vaccine.
“It will be roughly the same process. While now we're doing 16 and above, we'll go down to 12 and above,” explained Dr. Jeffrey Elder, the Medical Director of Emergency Management at LCMC Health.
He reminds parents that the emergency use authorization expected soon is not for all three vaccines.
“We're talking specifically about the Pfizer vaccine, and so Moderna and Johnson and Johnson is still authorized for 18 and above.”
Check the LCMC website to see which days Pfizer is being given at the convention center. All of the hospital clinics typically always have Pfizer on hand. Clinical trials on teens show the vaccine to be very safe and 100 percent effective in the young, since they have strong immune systems. So why should adolescents get one?
“When we talk about these younger populations, people tend to say that, ‘Well you know, they're younger, healthier. They don't get as ill with COVID.’ And that's all true, but what they will do is spread disease,” said Dr. Elder.
And they could spread it to adults who are choosing not to be vaccinated, but are at high risk of serious complications from the virus.
“Becoming sick with COVID is much more dangerous than these vaccines are, because the vaccines have been proven to be so safe.”
And while not common, COVID can make teens critically ill.
“I, myself, took care of an 18-year-old who had COVID, and then ended up being evaluated for a heart transplant, because of the damage that was done to his heart,” remembers Dr. Elder.
If your adolescent already had the coronavirus infection, doctors say still get the vaccine. It's showing signs of giving people stronger and longer immune protection.
It is unclear if there will be a big rush for young people to get the vaccine if it gets approval.
“There's going to be some people that are going to be very enthusiastic about getting vaccinated, and I think we'll have some people that maybe take a little bit more time to do it.”
More on getting a vaccine at one of the LCMC hospital clinics and the New Orleans Convention Center.