California health departments are preparing to start administering the COVID-19 vaccine to kids under the age of 12 now that it’s been determined to be safe as long as they receive a smaller dose.
Children between the ages of 5 and 11 will be able to receive the shots in the upcoming weeks, and according to officials, to make the process much more “family friendly,” they will be organizing special events to convince parents to get their young ones vaccinated, including at schools.
Just yesterday, the White House released some details regarding the plans for the authorization of the Pfizer shot for kids of elementary school age and it sounds like everything will be ready in a matter of weeks.
In the next couple of weeks, federal regulators are set to meet up and further discuss the effectiveness and safety of injecting youngsters with small doses of the adult vaccine.
Based on the current plan, it seems like a total of 28 million children could receive the shot since that is the total number of young ones in that age bracket.
The formal approval is expected to take place on November 2-3, after the Food and Drug Administration signs off, followed by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention meeting.
Then, within hours, millions of doses of the vaccine will be provided to spots all over the country, along with smaller needles suitable for young kids.
School clinics and other similar sites are set to be used for administering the vaccines to children, as per the California Department of Public Health.
State officials are also planning on continuing all the masking requirements in K-12 schools.
Earlier this month, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that California would be the first American state to institute a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for kids under the age of 12, as soon as the federal government finishes approving the shots.
This will be the case for around 6.7 million private and public schools all around the state.
As you might be aware, California is already one of the most vaccinated states in the whole country but that is not to say that there isn’t still a very vocal minority that doubts the safety and effectiveness of the shots.
After all, just last month, over a thousand people met to protest the vaccine mandates in front of the state Capitol.
In the country’s most populated area, Los Angeles County (10 million residents), there are around 900,000 kids ages between 5 and 11.
They only make around 9 percent of the county’s entire population but they are 6 percent of the total 1.5 million cases of COVID-19 infection in the county, which is concerning.
Local officials are expecting to get around 95,000 first doses of Pfizer by the end of this month, as per the county’s public health director, Barbara Ferrer.
Of course, without any changes to the current timeline, that would happen as planned, providing many kids with some protection against the virus that they haven’t had any access to since the pandemic started.
During an interview for The Associated Press, Ferrer shared that health officials are also set to start talking to parents and other caregivers next week, just to make sure they get real information across to them before any potential misinformation spreads and makes them more hesitant to vaccinate their kids.
“We like to be ready immediately because we know there’s some pent-up demand here. There are a lot of parents who have a lot of questions. There are also a lot of parents who are desperate to get their kids vaccinated. So we’re going to be ready here to do that.”
The county is also currently working on preparing the Pfizer providers to be able to vaccinate the young ones as soon as possible.
In the past 5 months or so, the local public health department has been working to add more than 300 pediatricians to its network as well to make sure everyone is prepared when the vaccination is officially approved.
And that’s not all. As mentioned before, LA County is also expanding its vaccination capabilities at the places most frequented by kids – schools – especially in those areas where the virus has spread the most.
At this point, there have already been scheduled 800 vaccine clinics at schools and over 360 additional ones.
Furthermore, it is important to mention that between 60 and 70 percent of those are set in the most affected communities by COVID-19.
Ferrer noted that “Our efforts are always to prioritize pediatric clinics and services that are in the hardest-hit communities.”
And in order to provide parents and caregivers with the best information, San Francisco public health officials will be hosting family-friendly events and virtual town halls, making sure to answer all of their questions!
As per the San Francisco Department of Public Health, 4 school vaccination sites will be able to vaccinate up to 250 kids every day.
They also anticipate that, across its almost 100 sites around the city, they will manage to vaccinate up to 25,000 children in that 5 to 11 age group as well as first dose receivers of adult age and third-dose boosters in only a week!
But while those who got vaccinated early on are ready for their third dose booster, they might struggle a little to get it since all centers are going to prioritize first dose and second dose receivers, including young children.