Santa Clara County schools now offering COVID vaccine doses to kids

Santa Clara County on Thursday marked another first. After being the first Bay Area county to begin vaccinating children ages 5-11, the county is now offering inoculations at schools.

Ten-year-old Aiden Flores, and his brother Noah, 5, were first in line at Katherine Smith Elementary School. That site is one of 80 now offering COVID vaccinations.

"It’s been tested and I feel fully confident in the science and keeping them safe," said Lizbeth Flores, Aiden’s mother.

During the early afternoon, dozens of parents lined up outside one of the school’s buildings to register their children to receive the COVID shot.

"We know this is a decision of parents, for their children. And every parent I know wants to do what’s right for their children," said Cindy Chavez, who sits on the county's board of supervisors.

Parent Alondra Rodriguez was ready to have her child vaccinated Thursday, after her family’s bout with COVID last year.

"We didn’t feel any symptoms. But my parents, just to see them going through it, it was super bad. They almost not make it," she said.

Months later and everyone survived the virus scare. Now, Rodriguez implored other parents to get themselves and their children vaccinated.

"Having our young students vaccinated will help us as a community to reach greater immunity," said Dr. Mary Ann Dewan, the Santa Clara County superintendent of schools.

County officials said 75,000 doses of the children’s vaccine are on hand. It’s one-third the strength of the adult shots, with the two shots administered three weeks apart.

"It felt like, it was like a little pinch, but you could barely feel it," said 10-year-old Aiden Flores.

County officials said their goal is to inoculate 75% of the 167,000 eligible children.

"They will be prioritizing the zip codes and the schools in areas of most need," said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, the Santa Clara County COVID vaccine coordinator.

Some parents said the added convenience of shots offered at school will lead to greater vaccination rates.

"There are some families where they might not have private care. And with opportunities like this, it just makes it more widely available for those who don’t have somewhere else to go to get vaccinated," said Flores.

County officials said the school sites will operate from 3-7p.m. The school locations will be announced on a day-of basis, to avoid overloading any one site. Vaccinations are free and also are available to parents if needed.