Special to Iredell Free News
RALEIGH — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending the Pfizer COVID-19 booster for children ages 12 to 15 to further protect them from COVID-19. The CDC also recommends a third dose of Pfizer for children ages 5 to 11 who have compromised immune systems.
In addition, the wait time for boosters for anyone who received Pfizer COVID-19 vaccinations has been reduced from six months to five months. People who received two doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine should receive their booster in six months. People who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should receive their booster two months after their vaccination.
“The new recommendations by the CDC reinforce the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines and boosters — and the urgency of getting vaccinated and boosted to prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death,” said Kody H. Kinsley, secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.
These booster recommendations come during a surge in COVID-19 infections caused by the highly contagious Omicron variant and as early research shows booster doses increase a person’s ability to fight the new variant.
COVID-19 infections have skyrocketed to a seven-day daily average of more than 480,000 cases per day in the United States, and the number of children being hospitalized across the country is increasing.
COVID-19 cases among children in the U.S. have reached their highest ever reported since the start of the pandemic — more than 325,000 child COVID-19 cases were reported nationally in the final week of December. North Carolina is experiencing a similar surge in COVID-19 infections. Hospitalizations are rising nationally and in North Carolina, with intensive care units in the state at 85 percent of capacity.
COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are effective in reducing the severity of illness among those who become infected. People who are unvaccinated run the highest risk of infection, severe illness, hospitalization and death. Currently, 87 percent of the patients in the ICU are unvaccinated.
The CDC also updated its guidance for isolation and quarantine. People with COVID-19 should isolate for at least five full days and wear a mask for an additional five days. People exposed to COVID-19 should quarantine for five days and wear a mask for an additional five days. However, people who are exposed to COVID-19 do not need to quarantine if they are vaccinated — including a booster for adults — against COVID-19. Because North Carolina remains in the CDC’s red zone with high community transmission, all North Carolinians should wear a mask.
COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are widely available across North Carolina. Go to MySpot.nc.gov to find a vaccine location near you.