OAKLAND, Calif. - Bay Area clinics, county health officers, hospitals, pharmacies, and schools have been preparing for months to make sure the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine rollout for children goes smoothly.
On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control approved the Pfizer BioNTech pediatric COVID vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 years old. An estimated 28 million children nationwide now are eligible to get the shots.
California has already sent the first batch of doses. The pediatric vials are orange, a different color from the adult doses.
The doses for children are one-third the amount of the adult COVID vaccine shot and will require two doses. Children will reach full immunization two weeks after the second shot. That means the 5–11-year-old children still won't be fully vaccinated by the Thanksgiving weekend but could be protected by the Christmas and winter holidays.
"We received our 300 doses today," said Dr. Olivia Lang, a pediatrician with Berkeley Pediatrics. "This time around with the pediatric doses, there's more reliance on pediatric practices giving the vaccine, so we're kind of in the first wave."
Lang says the clinic alerted their patients in advance that they would be doing a COVID vaccination clinic for children on Saturday if the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup approves the vaccine.
"Our phones were lit up for three hours straight until we closed. People were lined up the next morning outside our office trying to get in to get an appointment," Lang said.
The response was so overwhelming, Lang said they had to post a warning on their website that all slots for Saturday's vaccination clinic are already full.
"The phone was busy for two days with people calling to get their kids on the list," said Jesica Brennan of Berkeley, whose two boys are on a list to get the shots.
"I think I'd get it," said Jett Brennan, 9, who was with his 5-year-old brother.
Parents with children under five will need to wait longer. But some say they're glad to hear the news because their toddlers go to daycare with kids ages five and up.
Jimmy Hardwick, a Berkeley parent with a teenager and an 18-month-old, says he is relieved to hear the news.
"I think the one of the concerning things about COVID in general is not knowing what long COVID looks like, the long-term effects," said Hardwick.
California has sent many doses to clinics that work with underserved communities.
La Clinica in Oakland's Fruitvale district is ready to give the shots as soon as Wednesday if approved.
"There's also no legal documents needed to get the vaccine so it's free and available to everybody regardless of documentation status," said Dr. Lynne Rosen, a pediatrician at La Clinica.
"These COVID vaccines went through all the same regulatory steps that all the vaccines have gone through that we already give to our children. So there weren't any steps that were skipped in the approval process." said Dr. Rosen.
Contra Costa County's Health Department says it's getting 20,000 pediatric doses to administer at their clinics on Saturday.
Many counties such as Marin, are also partnering with school districts to have pop up clinics on campus.
"We have super pods that have been scheduled starting this coming weekend," said Mary Jane Burke, Superintendent of Marin Schools.
Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU. Email Jana at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana or ktvu.com.
PEDIATRIC VACCINATION INFORMATION:
(Note: some websites have not yet updated for pediatric 5–11-year-old children)
COVID-19 vaccines are available for free to every person, ages five and older, regardless of residency or immigration status.
Contact your health care provider, local county health department, community health center, or pharmacist to see when they will begin vaccinating 5–11-year-olds. In partnership with school districts, vaccination clinics will be available on some school sites.
CALIFORNIA VACCINATION APPOINTMENT PORTAL: Find clinics and pharmacies that are offering Pfizer and have open appointments for patients ages five and older.
To find a vaccine site in Alameda County visit here.
Alameda County’s Community Clinics will be able to accommodate vaccination of 5-11-year-olds by mid-November, including weekend operational hours to ensure access for working families. Parents, guardians, or care givers can make an appointment here: https://www.primarybio.com/r/alco-vax-signup or call 510-208-4VAX (4829). A limited number of drop-in appointments for residents living in neighboring communities only will be available at each location.
For accurate information about COVID-19 vaccines and children, visit https://covid-19.acgov.org/vaccines-faq#children
To make a vaccination appointment, call 510-208-4VAX (510-208-4829) or visit bit.ly/AlCoSignUp (https://www.primarybio.com/r/alco-vax-signup). Walk-in opportunities are also available.
Pediatric vaccinations might be available at county-run clinics by Nov. 6.