New COVID-19 variant spreads; vaccine authorized for children; booster shots recommended for all adults

Katherine Kang, Staff Writer

A new COVID-19 variant named Omicron was reported in South Africa on Nov. 24. It has since been detected in multiple other countries including throughout the U.S.

Little research has been done about this new variant, but there are still ways to protect oneself from the original virus. The Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccines have been produced and administered to people around the U.S. to stop the spread of the disease, and recent studies have continued to bring new advancements.

For example, younger children can now receive the COVID-19 vaccine. On Oct. 29, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the authorization of the Pfizer vaccine under emergency use for children ages 5-11.

In addition, booster shots can be administered to people who have already been vaccinated. Updated Nov. 19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has approved boosters for everyone over the age of 18.

People who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine are eligible for a booster shot after at least six months following the completion of their primary vaccination series. Those who received the first J&J vaccine shot at least two months ago can also receive a booster.

Furthermore, the CDC has allowed the use of mix-and-match dosing for booster shots. People may choose to receive a booster of the same vaccine type they originally received or they could pick another.

Ale Gutierrez De Nova, a senior at Tualatin High School, shared his views on the COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots. 

“As of right now, everybody should get them, not only for the protection of yourself, but for the protection of others as well,” he explained. “I think this individualistic idea that a lot of Americans have about the vaccine really hurts other people, and we should be thinking more collectively.”

Sophomore Sienna Smiley expressed a similar standpoint.

“It’s important for the community, especially if you have people directly in your life who are older people or people with underlying health conditions—it’s important to keep them protected and safe,” she said.

Smiley added that with the spread of the Omicron variant, fully vaccinated individuals still should take proper precautions, such as wearing masks and staying in small groups of people, in order to continue staying safe.

Students who would like to receive the COVID-19 vaccine can visit the NHC Tualatin High School Based Health Center. Their clinic offers vaccines for Tigard-Tualatin School District students ages 12 and up, and appointments can be scheduled with a call to 503-941-3180.