The next chapter in a push to boost vaccination rates for COVID-19 began Wednesday, when children aged 5-11 began to roll up their sleeves – a long-awaited new phase of the vaccination campaign that officials hope will help California stave off another feared coronavirus outbreak. over the winter.
The day after federal health officials gave their long-awaited blessing to expand the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in pediatrics, some parents and young people flocked to clinics and hospitals.
But it will take time to see how quickly this age group can get vaccinated and how stubborn or persistent some parents can be. An additional 3.5 million children are now eligible for vaccines across the state.
The Los Angeles Unified School District does not require students aged 5 to 11 to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, although vaccinations will be available on various campuses. if parents want their children to be vaccinated. In contrast, LAUSD and several other school districts in California require high school students to be vaccinated to remain on campus for the semester beginning in January. In Los Angeles, public school students will have to get vaccinated by January 10th.
Governor Gavin Newsom last month announced the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine for schoolchildren nationwide, but the first phase of that plan for children ages 12 and older is likely not to take effect next summer or more. in a year. … Unlike LA Unified, the state mandate will provide exceptions for parents who say they disagree with the mandate to vaccinate their children.
Officials said there will be a variety of doses available for children. California originally allocated 1.2 million doses for first-time children; 860,000 have already been distributed throughout the state.
“We do not expect a shortage and expect that there will be enough vaccine to meet demand,” said Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County director of health.
New vaccines are emerging as the holiday season approaches, and the number of COVID-19 cases in California is declining after several months of decline. In recent weeks, COVID-19 hospitalizations have stopped declining in Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties, and have increased by 11% in San Diego County and 20% in San Bernardino County since mid-October.
Over the past 10 days, COVID-19 hospitalizations in Riverside County have grown by 27%.
California health officials remain concerned about a possible fifth wave of the pandemic as people spend more time indoors with colder weather. Vaccination rates in California, while relatively high compared to other states, are still too low to prevent significant risk of transmission.
According to Johns Hopkins University, the introduction of the vaccine came on the same day the pandemic surpassed another devastating milestone: 750,000 people died from COVID-19 across the country.
Officials hope a combination of childhood vaccinations and adult boosters can boost immunity levels.
Clinical trials of the vaccine have shown an efficacy of nearly 91% in preventing symptomatic cases of COVID-19 in children aged 5 to 11 who have not previously been infected.
Children across the country were at a higher risk of hospitalization during the latest wave. The director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walenski, said in a briefing on Wednesday that the number of hospitalizations among children and adolescents due to COVID-19 has increased fivefold in the six-week period ending in mid-August.
New research shows that children and adults are equally vulnerable to coronavirus infections, Dr Anthony Fauci, the US government’s chief infectious disease expert, said Wednesday. Infected children are still less likely to become noticeably sick than adults; half of infected children between 5 and 11 may not show any symptoms.
It used to be thought that infected children were unlikely to transmit the virus to parents or classmates. However, it is becoming clear that infected children are also capable of transmitting the virus to people in their homes and schools, Fauci said. Vaccination reduces the likelihood of transmission of the coronavirus.
The Western States Science Safety Review Working Group, a coalition of public health experts from California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, gave the green light to the vaccine Wednesday morning, officially paving the way for vaccinations to be distributed in California. The move comes after CDC director Walenski recommended on Tuesday that more than 28 million children across the country between the ages of 5 and 11 get vaccinated.
“This expanded eligibility for life-saving vaccines brings us closer to ending the pandemic,” Newsom said in a statement.
By noon, vaccinations had already arrived at children ages 5 to 11 at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and at the county vaccination site at Eugene A. Obregon Park in East Los Angeles. Los Angeles County Department of Health website. Vacinatelacounty.com, began a list of clinics offering Pfizer-BioNTech injections for young children.
Santa Clara County, Northern California’s most populous county, has also begun distributing vaccines to youth in its clinics; so did the Radi Children’s Hospital in San Diego.
Kaiser Permanente was scheduled to immunize young children in Orange County on Thursday, the same day San Bernardino and Ventura County state clinics are ready to receive the children. Vaccination clinics run by Riverside and Long Beach counties will be ready later this week.
California vaccination website. myturn.ca.gov, started offering meetings for the age group on Wednesday nights. Several national drugstore chains have begun accepting appointments, with Walgreens announcing that it will start vaccinating on Saturday and CVS on Sunday.
Some parents in the San Francisco Bay Area reported on Wednesday that it is difficult for them to make an appointment for their children.
During the first week of implementation, Ferrer advised parents and guardians to call ahead to make sure the establishment has baby doses. There was at least one parent who arrived Wednesday morning at a Los Angeles County clinic advertised as having vaccinations, but was told the doses were not yet available.
Vaccines for this age group are specially designed and supplied in orange-capped vials that are injected using smaller needles at a dosage of one-third the size of those given to people 12 years of age and older. Pfizer-BioNTech Elderly Dose comes in a different vial with a purple cap and is not suitable for young children.
In Los Angeles County, about 900,000 children are eligible for the vaccine. The county expects to receive about 300,000 doses over the next 10 days, and ultimately there will be 900 locations across the county offering vaccinations for this age group.
Mobile vaccination teams will also be sent. This month, officials are planning to open 480 vaccination clinics in schools in areas of greatest need.
Vaccination is given in two doses three weeks apart. People are considered fully protected two weeks after the last dose, which means that children who start vaccinations by mid-November will be fully protected by Christmas.
The vaccine is free of charge and recipients do not need to be US citizens or have health insurance.
The Los Angeles Unified School District will launch mobile vaccination teams for junior high school students Monday. From November 16, 13 school clinics will offer the vaccine. Some clinics provide the vaccine on Saturdays.
“COVID-19 vaccines are the safest, most effective and best way to protect our students, employees and families, and public schools are natural places where our students and families can receive this life-saving vaccine,” the district said.
LA Unified’s credentials for students 12 and older began this week, with high school students in team sports, marching band and coaching required to provide confirmation that they received both doses of the two-shot pattern.
About 77% of eligible students on these teams met the requirements. Some teams in some schools were hit hard by the sudden inappropriate students.
Varsity School on Westside was forced to abandon the City Section II girls’ tennis semi-final against Hamilton High because it did not vaccinate enough of its players. Esteban Torres School of East Los Angeles dropped out of the playoff game on Friday against New Designs Charter Schools – Watts over the same issue. At Taft High in Woodland Hills, officials warned more than 100 students in all sports that they would no longer be allowed to play on teams and handed them a highly publicized mandate clarification letter.
The district has so far declined to publish data on the impact on individual teams at each school. However, coaches have this data for their schools, and they know who to involve in play and training – and if the game can continue.
Times staff columnist Eric Sondheimer contributed to this report.