SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – As the federal government enters its final phase of approving the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, preparations are already underway in Santa Clara County and in other parts of the Bay Area to begin distributing doses.
On Tuesday, an expert committee advising the Food and Drug Administration voted 17-0, with one abstention, to recommend the dose for the younger children.READ MORE: Federal Court Blocks COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate for California Prisons
Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a news conference on Wednesday, “We’ve been working with a 1,000 plus school districts up and down the state of California, working with our departments to prepare for this,” Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said on Wednesday during a news conference.
FDA regulators typically follow the committee’s advice, and emergency use authorization comes within days. The Centers for Disease Control, which sets vaccine policy, would quickly follow with its own recommendation and guidelines.
“We should have shots in arms, hopefully, if everything works out, by next Wednesday and Thursday,” said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, Santa Clara County Vaccine Control Officer.
Nationally, 1.3 million children have been infected, with 8,300 requiring hospitalization. Of those requiring hospital care, a third were severe cases requiring ICU treatment. In the early weeks of October, children comprised 11% of new infections, according to Fenstersheib.
An initial shipment of 55,000 doses arriving next week will be shared amongst retail pharmacies, doctor’s offices, and in-school clinics. The doses, which are one-third that of an adult sized dose, will be packaged in orange containers.
The two doses will be administered to the children three weeks apart. Children would reach full immunity two weeks after the second dose. The Pfizer vaccine is 90% effective in preventing symptomatic infections in the age group, said Fenstersheib.
Health officials are expecting a sharp rise in demand, as parents are expected to flock to vaccination sites. But there will likely not be prolonged waits, similar to the springtime rollout of the vaccine for adults.READ MORE: Bay Area Bargain Shoppers Find Black Friday Is Not What It Used To Be
“If people have to wait, it only be probably another several days or weeks for the vaccine to be available,” said Fenstersheib.
The city of Milpitas already announced a kid’s pop-up vaccine clinic on Sunday, Nov. 7 at the Milpitas Community Center from 2 to 7 p.m. Elsewhere in the Bay Area, Oakland Unified School District staff held a meeting Wednesday night to discuss whether to require COVID vaccinations beginning Jan. 1, 2022.
In order to lift the indoor mask order, the county must, among other metrics, reach an overall vaccination rate of 80%. Vaccinations amongst the county’s 167,000 5 to 11 year olds may help Santa Clara County achieve that goal.
“Currently, if you look at where we are now, at about 73% total population vaccinated, we would need about 55% or so of those kids vaccinated to get up to 80%. But as I said, we want all the kids to get vaccinated,” said Fenstersheib.
Jose Martinez, whose daughter is 11, plans to get the shot when it’s available, to alleviate the stress and worry of contracting the virus.
“There’s going to be peace of mind because sometimes there’s people that if you’re not vaccinated, they don’t let you go inside. And we will feel more comfortable,” Martinez told KPIX 5.
“We’re really looking forward to getting our lives back to normal, getting the kids back to normal,” said Mary Jacobs, a mother of three kids in the age group. “It’s been really hard for them these past few years with the masks, and the social distancing, and avoiding parties and things like that.”MORE NEWS: Holiday Fair in Santa Clara Puts Focus on Local Crafts and Creators
Kiet Do and Maria Cid Medina contributed to this report.