Santa Clara County first in Bay Area to start vaccinating young children

Santa Clara County health officials led the way as the first Bay Area region to offer free COVID vaccinations for young children.

The vaccines arrived in the county on Tuesday. The following day parents and their children went through the inoculation process.

Chloe Estrella, 10, and her little sister Zoe, 5, said they were ready to get their doses as a step normalcy.

"I wanna see my friends again," the older sister said. Added her mother Malou Estrella, "We believe the vaccine is actually something that would help protect our kids."

Santa Clara County started vaccinating some of its 167,000 children ages 5-11 after FDA approval of the medicine just 24 hours earlier. The county expected to administer upwards of 2,000 doses to young children the first day.

"These are the same vaccines that we’ve used in adults at lower doses for the smaller age groups. They’ve been shown to have similar side effects and efficacy," said Dr. Jennifer Tong, associate chief medical officer at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

Health experts say the shots are one-third the adult dosage and must be premeasured and sent from the federal government.

"It’s really a safety precaution the FDA puts on almost all drugs that they make to ensure that people can’t overdose, even by accident," San Jose State University biotechnologist Dr. Mark Schwartz said on Oct. 27.

Some adults were wary of the two-dose inoculation for themselves or their children. But many others said they understood the concerns, but trusted the science behind the drugs' formulation.

"I’m a true believer this vaccination works. It’s been proven to work. It’s been proven to be very safe. And I truly believe the benefits outweigh the risks," said parent Mika Kutczyk, who brought her 10-year-old son Liam to get vaccinated on Wednesday.

The Estrella family believed the same, traveling 65 miles from Lathrop to score one of the coveted inoculation time slots.

"I wanted them to get vaccinated as soon as possible," said Mike Estrella.

A second dose will be needed three weeks from now, as the preventive regimen offered to adults is now making its way down to those with children.

In addition to the six primary sites in Santa Clara County offering inoculations, over 80 school sites will begin inoculations on Thursday. Schools will notify parents when they can bring their kids in.