“California will begin vaccinating children ages 5-11 today with 500 organizations across the state receiving their first shipments through next Monday,” read a joint statement from CA Director of Health and Human Services Dr. Mark Ghaly and Public Health Officer Dr. Tomás J. Aragón. “The state was allocated 1.2 million pediatric doses from the federal government with adequate supply to vaccinate all newly eligible Californians becoming available in the coming weeks. The state has more than 4,000 locations ready to vaccinate children ages 5-11 as supply increases.”
Children ages 5-11 can now receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, according to read a post on California’s MyTurn.ca.gov vaccination appointment site, although the site’s pulldown age range did not yet include those 5-11 by late morning.
Final federal approval was issued yesterday by the CDC director, but California has its own subsequent vetting process through the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, which consists of public health experts from California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington who analyze federal findings for those states.
That workgroup weighed in last night, recommending California approve vaccinations for those 5-11. “The Workgroup has reviewed and affirmed the federal decisions,” said a statement.
“The Workgroup thoroughly reviewed safety data for the vaccine, including the absence of any severe adverse events among vaccine recipients in the clinical trial. Reactions were mild and similar to those seen in adolescents and adults and with other vaccines routinely recommended for children and were less common at ages 5-11 years than at 16-25 years.”
The sign off from Ghaly and Aragón is the final step, and it was completed this afternoon.
L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer indicated Tuesday that L.A. County could be ready to go as soon as this afternoon, if state approval had been given by then. A search on the county’s appointment web site late this morning indicated dozens of locations are already accepting walk in patients today, though scheduling appointments was not yet possible. Individual pediatricians have begun accepting appointments, according to our reporting.
The Los Angeles Times reported that doses “were already going into the arms of 5- to 11-year-olds in Santa Clara County” this morning. The Times also reported that some big pharmacy chains are now accepting appointments for kids as they gear up to administer pre-teen shots. Walgreens will begin giving shots to that age group on Saturday and CVS on Sunday, according to the paper.
Governor Gavin Newsom issued the following statement today:
“This expanded eligibility for lifesaving vaccines moves us closer to ending the pandemic, which has taken a heavy toll on the well-being of our kids. California is leading the nation in vaccinations, with 54 million administered and 87 percent of the eligible population having received at least one dose, and we’re moving swiftly to implement a robust and equitable vaccination program for 5-11-year-olds. I urge families to get the facts on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine and take action to protect themselves and loved ones from COVID-19, especially as we head into the winter months.”
PREVIOUSLY: Late Tuesday, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky gave the final federal approval to roll out Covid vaccinations to Americans between the ages of 5 and 11, according to AP. Those ages 12 and up already are eligible.
Millions of smaller, kid-size doses already had been shipped across the country in anticipation of approval. While the pediatric shots are a lower dosage than the adult vaccine, the doses must be given on the same schedule — two shots administered 21 days apart. Los Angles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer noted today that children must have a signed consent form from an adult to receive the shot. Some vaccination sites require them to be accompanied by an adult, she said.
California officials last week announced plans to vaccinate 3.5 million kids ages 5-11 against Covid as soon as Thursday. The state’s director of Health and Human Services Dr. Mark Ghaly said at a news conference that the state expects to have 1.2 million doses on hand as it begins to inoculate pre-teens.
Despite today’s CDC approval, the Los Angeles Unified School District says students ages 5-11 will not be required to get the shots under the district’s vaccine mandate. LAUSD students ages 12 and up must receive their first dose by November 21 and their second by December 19.
While federal approval has been issued, California has its own vetting process through the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, which consists of public health experts from California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington who analyzing federal findings for those states. Their consideration usually takes 24-48 hours, after which time Ghaly and other state health officials will make the final determination on the administration of the vaccine to pre-teens. Given the urgency around vaccination expressed by health officials, it’s a fair bet Ghaly’s signoff will come on Thursday. Ferrer indicated that L.A. County could be ready to go as soon as Wednesday afternoon, if state approval had been given by then.
L.A. County has 900,000 children between the ages of 5 and 11 who likely will become newly eligible for vaccination this week, according the the Department of Public Health. The county expects to get nearly 300,000 doses as part of its first three waves of vaccine supply by the end of this week; the first pediatric doses arrived today with additional doses scheduled to arrive later this week. L.A. officials do not anticipate scarcity, and expect there will be ample vaccine to meet demand. Nationwide, according to AP, there are 28 million Americans in the 5-11 age group.
The pediatric shots will be offered under an emergency use authorization, the same authorization given to the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines and to the Pfizer vaccine for ages 12-15. Pfizer’s vaccine has full federal approval for people ages 16 and up.
According to Ferrer, there have been more than 79,000 Covid cases during the pandemic among children ages 5-11 in the county, and one fatality. About 37,000 cases have occurred in kids up to age 4, also with one death, and more than 89,000 cases in those ages 12-17, with five deaths.
“Over the week ending Oct. 10, 12% of L.A. County cases were in children aged 5-11, and children in this age group comprise 9% of the county’s population,” Ferrer said last week.
There is a network of nearly 900 providers countywide prepared to provide vaccines to children this week. County mobile vaccination teams will work to supplement vaccinations offered by existing providers. Over the course of the month of November, vaccines for children will be also offered at 480 school-based events with a focus on schools in high-need areas.
Of residents ages 12 and older, 72% are fully vaccinated, according to the county. Among the county’s overall population of 10.3 million people, including those under age 12 who aren’t yet eligible for the shots, 61% are fully vaccinated.
City News Service contributed to this report.
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