Boosters available for ages 12-15 as COVID continues to impact schools

Families have a new tool in their fight against COVID-19 as cases of the omicron variant continue to spike. On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed a plan to give Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to kids from ages 12 to 15. 

This comes after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the shots earlier this week and as schools continue to feel the impact of the pandemic post-holiday break. 

This week, both Minneapolis and Saint Paul Public Schools alerted parents that bus routes may be delayed due to a driver shortage fueled by COVID-19. The delays may last through the end of the school year.

Following a high number of teacher sick absences, Minnetonka High School made Friday an e-learning day for students. 

"What we are seeing in the schools right now is really a factor of relaxed approaches around masking and distancing," said Joe Kurland, a vaccine specialist from Children's Minnesota. 

He says while these booster doses may not curb the total number of cases, they will help in the overall battle against the pandemic. 

"It might not stem down the number of people that may develop illness, but it will also help delay or defer people that get sick from needing hospitalization," said Kurland. 

The Minnesota Department of Health has not changed their guidance for schools when it comes to COVID-19 prevention since they initially released it. 

The Minnesota Department of Health provided FOX 9 with the following statement: 

"Over the summer, Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and MDE released the Best Practice Recommendations for COVID-19 Prevention in Schools for the 2021-22 School Year, which are based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance for schools. By and large, these best practices have not changed since their initial release, and they highlight the importance of a layered approach. The more strategies that are put in place, the better the protection, and both families and schools have a role in protecting in-person learning. Among the strategies in the guidance are: promoting vaccination and boosters for all who are eligible; having all students, teachers, staff, and visitors wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status; maintaining social distance when possible; staying home if sick; regular testing; improved ventilation; and more. The recommendations are designed to support local school leaders and school boards in making decisions that prioritize in-person learning, while protecting the health and safety of students, staff and families."