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Infectious disease expert talks about vaccine safety in teenagers ahead of eligibility

Infectious disease expert talks about vaccine safety in teenagers ahead of eligibility

SALINAS, Calif. — Monterey County's top infectious disease says there should be no hesitancy when it comes to teenagers getting the vaccine when it's available.

"I would certainly vaccinate my teenager if I had the opportunity," Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System chief of staff Dr. Alan Radner said.

The opportunity will come April 15, when everyone age 16 and above will be eligible to receive a vaccine in California.

Radner said while teenagers are not likely to develop serious illness from COVID-19, teenage vaccination is an important step towards herd immunity.

"They can still get very ill and they can spread it to other people who could have a serious outcome," Radner said.

Currently, the Pfizer vaccine is the only one that has been approved for 16-year-olds. There are currently no vaccines approved for children under 16, but Pfizer began testing vaccines on children as young as 6 months old this week.

One important piece of information researchers are hoping to learn is the correct dosage.

"For Pfizer, adults are getting 30 micrograms. So, for the children starting at 10 micrograms, then evaluate that dose, then look at 20 micrograms, then potentially 30 micrograms," said Dr. Robert Frenck with Cincinnati Children's Hospital.

Moderna has fully enrolled clinical trials for kids 12-17 and Johnson & Johnson's CEO said they're expecting vaccines for children to available by September.

"There's some optimism we'll have those out before school goes back into session, so 12 and above will be able to be vaccinated," Dr. Radner said.

Dr. Radner says at the moment "we do not have the supply" of the vaccine when everyone over 16 will be eligible on April 15. But he said the lack of barriers as to who can get supply will now increase efficiency.

"Communities and states that have really opened up and tried to get vaccines in as many arms as possible, when you put fewer obstacles in place, seem to have had greater numbers of people vaccinated," Dr. Radner said. "So we all just want the opportunity to vaccinate as many people quickly as we can. And we hope the vaccine will catch up."

Dr. Radner said Monterey County is expecting "significantly" more vaccines in the first two weeks of April.