Saturday, December 4, 2021

California plans ambitious efforts to vaccinate young children

California health officials said Wednesday they are committed to doing whatever it takes to vaccinate children ages 5-11 for COVID-19 as the country moves closer to allowing eligibility for this age group.

While there are still a number of federal and state hoops to overcome, officials said they are preparing to offer doses to an estimated 3.5 million children in the age group across the state as early as the end of next week as the critical vacation season approaches.

“The more vaccinations we get in the hands of the right Californians, the more we stop the spread and reduce the number of people vulnerable to COVID-19. This will bring us closer to ending the pandemic, ”said state epidemiologist Dr. Erica Peng. “Our youngest children have remained vulnerable to the highly contagious virus as the older Californians received the vaccine. Now is the time to protect them. “

Although the early part of vaccinations was marred by shortages of supplies and long queues, officials said they expect sufficient doses and capacity to meet the increased demand.

Peng, a pediatric infectious disease specialist and parent, said there will be more than 1.2 million doses available in California in the first week after young children are eligible for treatment.

By comparison, on average, over the past week, only about 77,000 doses were dispensed daily.

And while California already has a network of thousands of vaccination sites, officials said they are committed to working with schools to create more spaces on campus – not just for new children eligible for vaccinations, but also for parents who may be looking convenient place for vaccination. your pictures.

On Tuesday, an FDA advisory group voted to approve Pfizer-BioNTech children’s doses of vaccine.

The benefits of preventing COVID-19 in this age group outweigh any potential risks, such as myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart that is rare in teens and young adults, experts say.

In fact, according to data submitted to the FDA, a clinical trial of children aged 5 to 11 has not found any reports of post-vaccination myocarditis. Monitoring will continue for rare reports of myocarditis.

Some experts have expressed optimism that a lower dosage for children aged 5 to 11 will reduce the likelihood of side effects such as myocarditis. The dose for these children, 10 micrograms, is one third of the dose for people 12 years of age and older.

The FDA is expected to make its own decision in the coming days. If this agency signs its decision, the matter will be referred to the advisory committee of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The advisory committee is scheduled to meet on November 2 and 3. After the panel makes a recommendation, the matter will be referred to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walenski, who will issue a final clinical recommendation on who should get the vaccine.

In California, injections will not begin to fall into the hands of young people until further review is completed by the Western States Science Safety Review Working Group, a coalition of public health experts from California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. This check may take an additional day to complete.

Even so, children aged 5 to 11 can receive their first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by the end of next week.

“These young heroes want to fully participate in life again. With the holidays and holidays approaching, vaccine authorization could not have been more timely, ”Ban said.

As with children 12 years of age and older, the vaccine for this younger age group will be given in two parts, with the second dose as recommended by the manufacturer being administered three weeks after the first.

The Pfizer-BioNTech injection is already fully approved for people over 16 years of age and is approved for use in children aged 12 to 15 in emergencies.

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Health officials have long argued that immunizing children is critical to finally ending the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vaccinating young people will not only help prevent them from getting sick, officials said. This will prevent them from inadvertently spreading to other, more vulnerable residents or the breeding of potentially dangerous mutations of the coronavirus.

“Fully vaccinated children will be better protected in schools, youth events, holiday gatherings and celebrations, and at home,” said Los Angeles County Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

After the CDC issues final approval, the district will use its network of providers to vaccinate young children, she said.

A potential new front for the vaccination campaign is emerging as California is still struggling with the remnants of the latest coronavirus outbreak fueled by the highly infectious variant of Delta.

At the peak of the wave in California, an average of nearly 15,000 new infections were confirmed daily, and more than 8,300 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized across the state.

Although both of these indicators have declined significantly in recent months, they are still growing. The state has recorded an average of 5,560 new coronavirus cases per day over the past week, according to data compiled by The Times – just 5% fewer than two weeks ago.

The number of hospitalized coronavirus patients at 3,827 as of Tuesday is largely unchanged from two weeks ago and has increased slightly over the past week.

On average, more than 100 Californians still die from COVID-19 every day.

However, officials continue to emphasize that it is the unvaccinated residents who continue to bear the brunt of the pandemic. Unvaccinated Californians are about 6.6 times more likely to become infected, 12 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 18 times more likely to die than their vaccinated peers, according to Dr.Mark Ghali, the state’s health and human services minister.

“We are entering the next few weeks with confidence in the state of the art with vaccines and their maximum protection for so many people, but careful and vigilant, being vigilant,” he said.

While in general children are much less likely than adults to suffer from the worst health effects of COVID-19, the disease is not safe for young people.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in August and September, COVID-19 became the seventh leading cause of death among youngest children aged 1 to 4; the sixth leading cause of death among people aged 5 to 14; and the fourth leading cause of death among people aged 15 to 24.

According to Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease expert at the University of California, San Francisco, the chances of dying from COVID-19 among children may be small, but still remain the leading cause of death because children do not die very often.

But during the latest coronavirus outbreak, she said, “children had many infections and more hospitalizations for children than we’ve ever seen” in places across the country with low adult vaccination rates.

Nationwide, 763 children under the age of 18 have died from COVID-19, according to the CDC.

In California, 37 children have died from COVID-19, according to the State Department of Health.

“It’s kind of like, what if you had a completely safe vaccine,” Gandhi said, and the child “never got cancer?”

As of mid-October, more than 6 million US children have been infected with the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, with 1 million of these cases reported in just the past six weeks.

“More than 35 deaths of children. [from COVID-19] only in California, which is more deaths than we see from the flu in a very bad flu season, ”Ban said. “When such effective and safe prevention is available, it is simply impossible to have an acceptable number of child deaths.”

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