SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is available to children ages 12 through 15 starting Thursday, state and local health officials say.
Contra Costa Health Services said on Wednesday they are expanding eligibility based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations at Contra Costa County-run clinics.
Nationally and in California, the shots are set to begin Thursday after a CDC vaccine advisory committee issued recommendations for using the two-dose vaccine in children as young as 12. Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup also recommended on Wednesday that the vaccine is safe for the new age group and effective in protecting against severe illness, hospitalization, and death.
The Pfizer vaccine had previously been available to children as young as 16.
On May 10 U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave the Pfizer vaccine emergency use authorization for the new age group.
"This is a big day for parents and kids who have been eager to get vaccinated against COVID," said Supervisor Diane Burgis, chair of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors. "We are looking forward to many households in Contra Costa County where all the adults and children are fully vaccinated."
California Department of Public Health issued a news release Wednesday evening that said parents and legal guardians can schedule vaccine appointments for the newly-eligible children starting Thursday morning on the state’s myturn.ca.gov booking system.
"The more Californians who are able to get vaccinated, the better we can protect our communities and slow the spread of COVID-19," said Governor Gavin Newsom.
Contra Costa County is working with the Office of Education, local school districts and Kaiser Permanente to host vaccination clinics at middle and high schools in the coming weeks. Health officials said more specific details will be announced in the next few days.
"Young people have shouldered a significant burden during this pandemic," said Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. "We look forward to now providing protection for this group to return to activities, especially as we look forward to the state fully reopening on June 15."
State health officials said about 2.1 million Californians are in this next eligible age group.