SANTA ROSA (BCN) – Sonoma County public health officials announced their goal Wednesday of administering COVID-19 vaccines to one-quarter of the county’s 5-11-year-old children by Dec. 1.

Roughly 37,000 kids age 5-11 are expected to become eligible for the vaccine as soon as the first week of November, when federal regulators are expected to review the vaccine’s safety and efficacy data from developer Pfizer-BioNTech.

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A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory group is expected to review the data Tuesday, and will subsequently recommend whether the FDA should give its approval via an emergency use authorization.

An advisory panel to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to meet the following week to determine whether to recommend vaccinations for children age 5-11.

Dr. Urmila Shende, the county’s vaccination chief, said parents will be encouraged to seek vaccines for their children at their family care doctor or pediatrician, retail pharmacy or at a handful of schools, which will serve parts of the county that do not have convenient access to a health care provider.

“The campaign will seek to vaccination half of these children by the end of January and 70 percent by the end of February,” Shende said in a virtual briefing Wednesday evening.

As of Wednesday, 78 percent of county residents age 12 and up have been fully vaccinated, while an additional 7 percent have received their first vaccine dose and are awaiting their second.

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The county’s vaccination progress and declining COVID-19 case and hospitalization rates are such that Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase said the county will not discourage outdoor Halloween festivities like trick-or-treating or Dia de los Muertos celebrations as it did last year.

Mase also encouraged that parents and children should take some precautions when celebrating the two holidays, such as wearing a face covering when near people from other households and avoiding large crowds.

“As more people get vaccinate, we do hope to return to more of a sense of normalcy and start to enjoy the holidays that we missed last year,” Mase said. “We also need to do so safely.”

Sonoma County residents age 12 and up can call (707) 565-4667 or visit https://socoemergency.org/emergency/novel-coronavirus/vaccine-information/clinics/ to schedule a vaccination appointment.

Walk-up appointments are also available at most clinics and pharmacies, according to county officials.

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