The next and final major phase of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign began this week as California was finally able to secure doses for children under the age of 5.
However, immediate access may be limited. Although California’s online appointment booking platform MyTurn.ca.gov is now accessible to patients as young as 6 months of age, many providers that appeared in search results Tuesday morning appeared unable to accommodate the youngest children.
On its own website, the Los Angeles County Department of Health said that “due to delays in shipping, the vaccine for those 6 months and older may not be available until Wednesday.”
A department spokesman confirmed Tuesday that “most locations begin tomorrow,” and said residents can find more information on locations and availability at vaccinatelacounty.com.
But officials say they expect to get the pediatric vaccine campaign underway in earnest soon. California has ordered nearly 400,000 doses of vaccine for children, according to the state Department of Health.
Once those shots arrive, they will be administered through a network of more than 8,500 sites, “with additional doses becoming available in the following weeks,” the department said in a statement to The Times.
dr Mark Ghaly, California Secretary of Health and Human Services, called extending immunization eligibility to the youngest children “an exciting time in our fight against COVID-19.”
“That means essentially the whole family can be vaccinated,” he said in a video statement posted on Twitter. “This means protection from the short- and long-term consequences of COVID; that means an opportunity to take that summer vacation, to send your child to summer camp, to send them to a birthday party, to get ready for school – things I know a lot of us have done with a bit in the past few years have done trepidation . [It] means our young people can thrive in the activities we know are life-changing.”
Federal health officials last week approved children as young as 6 months old to receive either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.
While the former was already available for people at least 5 years of age, Moderna was an adult-only vaccine up to that point.
“We know millions of parents and caregivers are eager to get their young children vaccinated, and today’s decision enables them to do so,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a statement Saturday. “I encourage parents and caregivers to contact their doctor, nurse or local pharmacist with any questions they may have to learn more about the benefits of vaccination and the importance of protecting their children through vaccination.”
The Moderna offering is administered as a two-dose regimen for the youngest children, with injections given a month apart. Each shot is a quarter of the typical adult dose.
Three Pfizer shots, each one-tenth the dose given to adults, are required – with the first two given three weeks apart and the third following at least eight weeks after that.
While health officials acknowledge that COVID-19 has generally not hit younger children as hard as other age groups, they emphasize that young children are not immune to serious health effects and that vaccines can offer valuable protection.
In a joint statement, Dr. Ghaly and California Department of Health director and state health commissioner Tomás Aragón states that “COVID-19 hospitalizations for children under the age of 4 were five times higher during the Omicron surge than during Delta, and one in five children diagnosed with COVID -19 were hospitalized were also admitted to ICU.”
“COVID-19 has become one of the top five killers in children, and vaccines are making those deaths preventable,” they said. “Studies have shown that vaccinating our children is the surest way to protect them from the worst outcomes of COVID-19, including hospitalization, prolonged COVID, pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome and death.
“Having everyone in our homes and communities vaccinated will reduce the chances of the virus spreading to those we love most.”
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-06-21/how-to-get-covid-shots-for-young-children-in-california How to get COVID shots for young children in California