California plans ambitious efforts to vaccinate young children

California health officials said Wednesday that they are prepared to withdraw all stations to vaccinate children ages 5 to 11 against COVID-19 as the country nears approval of eligibility for this age group.

While there are still a number of state and federal hoops to jump through, officials said they are preparing to provide doses to nearly 3.5 million children in the age group statewide as soon as next weekend, as the critical holiday season approaches.

“The more vaccines we get in the bosom of eligible Californians, the more we will stop the spread and reduce the number of people exposed to COVID-19. This will bring us closer to ending the pandemic,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pann. “Our young children remained highly vulnerable to the virus. Infection where elderly Californians received their vaccine. Now it’s time to protect them.”

Although the first part of the vaccination launch was marred by a dearth of supplies and long queues, officials said they expect to get large doses and be able to handle the surging demand.

Pan, a pediatric infectious disease specialist and parent, said California will provide more than 1.2 million doses in the first week after young children become eligible.

By comparison, an average of only 77,000 doses were distributed per day over the past week.

And while California already has a network of thousands of vaccination sites, officials said they look forward to working with schools to create more on-campus sites — not just for newly eligible children but for parents who may be looking for a suitable site to receive their own shots.

On Tuesday, an advisory panel of the Food and Drug Administration voted to approve child-sized doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The committee said the benefits of preventing COVID-19 in that age group outweigh any potential risks, such as myocarditis – an inflammation of the heart – which is rare in teens and young adults.

In fact, a clinical trial of children ages 5 to 11 found no reports of myocarditis after vaccination, according to data submitted to the Food and Drug Administration. Monitoring will continue to see if rare reports of myocarditis eventually come to light.

Some experts have expressed optimism that a lower dose for children aged 5 to 11 years will reduce the chances of side effects such as myocarditis. The dose for these children, 10 mcg, is a third of what is given to people 12 years of age or older.

The FDA is expected to make its own decision in the coming days. If that agency is signed, the matter will then go to an advisory committee for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for review.

The advisory committee plans to meet on 2 and 3 November. After the committee makes a recommendation, the matter will go to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Wallinsky, who will issue a final clinical recommendation on who should get the vaccine.

In California, shots won’t start going into the arms of young people until further review is completed by the Western States Scientific Safety Review Working Group, a coalition of public health experts from California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. This review may take an extra day to complete.

However, children ages 5 to 11 will likely be able to get their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by the later part of next week.

“These young champions want to fully participate in life again. With festive gatherings and celebrations approaching, the vaccine license could not have come at a better time,” Pan said.

As with those 12 years of age or older, the vaccine for this younger age group will be given in two parts, with the second dose recommended by the manufacturer to be given three weeks after the first.

The Pfizer-BioNTech shot has already been launched Fully approved For those who are at least 16 years old and over authorized to use In children aged 12 to 15 years in emergency situations.

Health officials have long emphasized that immunizing children is critical to finally satisfying the COVID-19 pandemic.

Officials say vaccinating the young will not only help prevent them from contracting the disease. It will prevent them from inadvertently spreading it to other, more vulnerable populations — or from incubating potentially dangerous coronavirus mutations.

“Fully vaccinated children will be better protected in schools, youth activities, holiday gatherings, celebrations and homes,” Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County Director of Public Health, said in a statement.

Once the CDC issues final approval, she said, the county will use its network of providers to vaccinate young children.

A potential new front for the vaccination campaign comes as California is still grappling with the effects of the latest wave of the coronavirus, fueled by Highly contagious delta variant.

At the height of the wave, California was confirming an average of nearly 15,000 new daily infections and more than 8,300 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized statewide.

While these two metrics have fallen significantly in recent months, they are still stubbornly high. Over the past week, the state has reported an average of 5,560 new coronavirus cases per day — just about 5% down from the previous two weeks, according to data compiled by The Times.

The number of people infected with Corona virus hospital patients, 3,827 as of Tuesday, is largely flat compared to the past two weeks and has increased slightly over the past week.

On average, more than 100 Californians still die from COVID-19 each day.

However, officials continue to stress that it is the unvaccinated population that continues to bear the brunt of the pandemic. According to Dr. Mark Galley, the state’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, unvaccinated Californians are 6.6 times more likely to contract infection, 12 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 18 times more likely to die than their vaccinated counterparts.

“We go into these next several weeks confident about the state of play with vaccines and their ultimate protection for many, but we are cautious and vigil with our caution,” he said.

While children, in general, are much less likely than adults to suffer the worst health effects of COVID-19, the disease is not harmful to young people.

according to Kaiser Family FoundationIn August and September, COVID-19 became the seventh leading cause of death among young children, ages 1 to 4; sixth cause of death among those aged 5 to 14 years; and the fourth cause of death among those aged 15 to 24 years.

Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease expert at the University of California, San Francisco, said the chance of dying from COVID-19 among children could be small, but it still ranks as the leading cause of death, because children don’t die often.

But during the recent coronavirus wave, she said, “children got a lot of cases, and there were more hospitalizations of children than we’ve seen before” in places across the country with low adult vaccination rates.

Nationwide, 763 children under the age of 18 have died from COVID-19, according to the CDC.

In California, 37 children have died from COVID-19, according to the state’s Department of Public Health.

Gandhi said, “It’s kind of like: What if you had a completely safe vaccine, and the child would never get cancer?”

As of mid-October, more than 6 million children in the United States have contracted the coronavirus since the pandemic began, with 1 million cases recorded in just the past six weeks.

“There have been more than 35 deaths among children [from COVID-19] In California alone, that’s more deaths than we see with influenza in a very bad flu season.” “There is simply no acceptable number of child deaths when such effective and safe prevention is available.”

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