SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — Like parents across the San Francisco Bay Area, Amber Roe has anxiously awaited the day her two young children could be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.
On Wednesday, she strolled up to a vaccination site in San Jose with her two children in tow and they became among the first to receive shots less than 24 hours after federal health officials cleared the vaccinations for children ages 5-11.READ MORE: COVID: Vaccine Mandate Protesters Disrupt Healdsburg Council Meeting, Force Members To Meet Virtually
“Today is such a huge sigh of relief for me,” she told KPIX 5. “It’s been really stressful for the past year and a half, kind of trying to balance their safety and trying to not expose them to the virus, while trying to balance their mental health.”
Dr. Jennifer Tong, the Associate Chief Medical Officer for Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, urged parents to be patient as the rollout begins.
But she emphasized the importance for having your children vaccinated.
“We’re still learning about the long-term effects of COVID and we worry about some of the long-term effects in this age group,” she said. “In addition, this age group can carry the infection and infect other high-risk individuals like grandparents.”
And what was young Felix Roe looking forward to now that he is vaccinated?
“Going to my grandma and poppa house,” he said.
At Emmanuel Baptist Church, one of the county-run vaccine sites, hundreds of students from kindergarten to fifth grade held onto a parent’s arm, eager and anxious for their first shot.
“Shots are basically like putting a needle into your skin so that can freak you out,” said Lydia Galush, an 11-year-old from Belmont. “But I was actually a little bit excited when I found out I could get the vaccine.”
Lydia came from Belmont in San Mateo County with her mother and 8-year-old twin siblings to get their first dose of the pediatric vaccine by Pfizer.
“They are not doing the big vaccination sites yet up in San Mateo County, so it was easier to come down here,” Lydia’s mother Alexandra Schmitt said.
Children under the age of 18 need their parents’ permission to get vaccinated. Pairs of children and parents lined up outside Emmanuel Baptist Church in San Jose throughout the day. Both groups say the vaccine is the key to returning to life before the pandemic.
“I was excited for my first vaccine,” said Isaac Carollo. The five-year-old said the sight of the needle was a little scary but the shot itself didn’t really hurt.
His mom Rosalie Carollo said the pandemic has been life-altering. She left her job to provide daycare and educational instruction to her three children who were too young to get vaccinated before now.READ MORE: Sunnyvale Extends Downtown Outdoor Dining Program Into Late 2022
“There’s holidays we didn’t celebrate. There’s friends we didn’t see,” she said.
Santa Clara County is one of the only counties in the region that started inoculating children Wednesday. San Mateo County, for example, will start vaccination on Saturday. And parents wanting to vaccinate their children in San Francisco are urged to contact their pediatricians before the city has doses available at vaccination sites.
Across the Bay Area, school systems were lining up plans to get parents the right information, or do the job on site.
“Parents and families can go to either their healthcare provider, or vaccine sites, or pharmacies,” said Deputy Health Officer for Contra Costa County Dr. Sefanit Mekuria. “In addition to that we’ve been working through several districts throughout our county on planning school-based vaccine sites.”
Contra Costa County is looking at 30 to 35 schools as vaccination sites. But like the initial vaccine rollout, there’s some uncertainty about supply and demand. So it’s a little hard to know how long it might take to get this next population vaccinated.
“That’s a great question,” Mekuria said. “We’ve been asked that. It’s unclear, because I’m sure there’s going to be similarities to other populations. There will be people that are very interested in being vaccinated, People who are very eager to get vaccinated. Others will not be.”
Vaccine providers in Marin County will offer low-dose Pfizer vaccine appointments for children as pediatric vaccines become more readily available, Marin County Public Health announced Wednesday afternoon.
The county hopes to vaccine 75 percent of the 20,000 children in Marin within one month.
“This is a historic moment in our fight against COVID-19,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County public health officer, in a statement. “In Marin we’ve seen firsthand just how safe and effective this vaccine is, and we’re finally able to extend that protection to our children.”
Napa County Public Health announced Wednesday afternoon that free, local clinics hosted by the county’s public health services will begin to issue vaccines in late November.
More information on eligibility and availability can be found at the county’s website.
“Vaccinating as much of our community as possible – including our children – is one of the most important ways to put this pandemic behind us,” Napa County Public Health Officer and Deputy Director of the Health and Human Services Agency Dr. Karen Relucio said in a statement. “As the holiday season approaches, expanded eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines means we can safely celebrate with extended family and friends – something that wasn’t a safe option last year.”
Pediatric vaccines are making their way to providers across the country, and the county has already received its first doses. Many vaccine providers will not have their doses until next week, and the vaccine will become more readily available in late November, Marin County health officials stated in a joint press release.
Below are links to county and state websites with information on how to sign up for vaccinations. Many counties have yet to update their websites. Your child’s pediatrician has also been approved to administer the Pfizer child vaccine.
- CVS pharmacies
- UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals may start as early as Friday, said Suzanne Leigh, the senior public information representative for UCSF. UCSF Vaccination Page
- Kaiser Permanente, with locations across California, said in a statement that they anticipate beginning pediatric vaccinations in early November. Kaiser Permanente Vaccination Page
- Walgreens Vaccination Signup Page
- Alameda County
- Contra Cost County
- Marin County
- Napa County
- San Francisco
- San Mateo County
- Santa Clara County
- Solano County
- Sonoma County
Jocelyn Moran and Devin Fehely contributed to this story.