Austin-area immunocompromised teen waits for COVID-19 booster shot


KYLE, Texas (KXAN) — Five open heart surgeries and two COVID-19 shots later, 14-year-old Bella Kouri thought she’d be able to get back to her regular life again.

That quickly changed weeks before her freshman year at Hays High School with COVID-19 cases skyrocketing again.

Kouri lives with thyroid cancer; she was diagnosed in 2017. Her family says they spoke to several of her doctors before she got the COVID-19 vaccine to make sure it was safe for her.

On Thursday night, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized an extra COVID-19 vaccine dose for transplant recipients and others with weakened immune systems.

Kouri and her family said she’d like to get it.

“So I don’t get sick,” Kouri said.

  • Bella Kouri
  • Bella Kouri
  • Bella Kouri
  • 14-year-old Bella Kouri has had five open heart surgeries and lives with thyroid cancer. She was vaccinated for COVID-19, but she and her family are awaiting approval for a possible third COVID-19 booster shot for immunocompromised people.
  • Bella Kouri and family
  • Bella Kouri (center) and family
  • Bella Kouri (top right) and her family

KXAN asked Kouri if she’d feel comfortable going back to school, once she’s able to get the booster.

“Probably, [but] I don’t know about them,” she said motioning toward her parents, with a smile.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), immunocompromised people are more likely to have breakthrough cases, and make up 44% of hospitalizations.

“If you’re immunocompromised, I think it’d be wise for you to get it,” Pharmacist John Anderson said.

Anderson said he hears interest for the third shot.

“I have people calling every day, eager to get a booster,” he said.

While the COVID-19 booster gives Kouri and her family hope she’ll be able to get back into the classroom soon, her parents say COVID protocols on campuses will also be a factor.

“As long as everyone is playing it safe, that’s kind of the way it needs to be,” Kouri’s dad, David, said. “Why are we putting any children in harm’s way at this point?”

For now, Bella will keep her spirts high, as she starts the school year in Hays CISD’s Homebound Academy.

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