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Health officials say teens age 16 and 17 should get booster dose 

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

Health experts say now is the time to get 16 and 17 year-olds vaccinated as the omicron variant continues to spread and as more school districts across the state start to take away the mask requirements.

Dr. Christelle Ilboudo, MU Health Care Infectious Disease Specialist, says it is important for people to get a booster shot, six months after their primary vaccine series, and now, that should include people ages 16 and 17.

"So when you combine having low immunity over time and a virus that is now more transmissible that created a landscape where getting boosted getting that booster shot was really helpful in curving that curve we saw with delta."

Ilboudo said as many teenagers begin to hit that six-month mark, they will need an extra dose for the vaccines to be most effective and build up their immunity, and now, people are dealing with the omicron variant.

"With omicron, we know that the vaccines have lost a little bit of how good it is, it still very good, but it's lost a bit of its effectiveness so that's a good reason to get the booster as well," Ilboudo said.

Sara Humm, with the Columbia/Boone County Health Department, said teens are not eligible to get a booster until that six-month mark.

"To be allowed to vaccinate people we have to make sure we are checking their records to make sure they are eligible to receive that vaccination," Humm said.

Ilboudo said eligible teens in that age group should think about getting boosted as some schools start to take away their COVID-19 policies.

"As communities do away with mitigation strategies that also becomes critical, so this is also important to keep them in school, especially in school where the masks are no longer required," Ilboudo said. 

Ilboudo said because of younger kids stronger immune response, the initial doses should be enough and it is not yet necessary for children ages 5-15 to get a booster.

The health department will hold a booster vaccine clinic on Thursday and Saturday at its building, anyone under the age of 18 will need a parent consent form. 

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Leila Mitchell

Leila is a Penn State graduate who started with KMIZ in March 2021. She studied journalism and criminal justice in college.

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