The Kern County Public Health Services Department said the administration of pediatric vaccinations against COVID-19 could begin for the first time as early as Thursday in Kern County.
On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced its recommendation that children 5 to 11 years old be vaccinated against COVID-19 with the Pfizer pediatric vaccine. This comes on the heels of the FDA determining the vaccine met the criteria for emergency use authorization.
In Kern County, an estimated 99,526 children are newly eligible for the vaccine.
"This is a hopeful time for many local families who have been anxiously waiting to get their children vaccinated," Brynn Carrigan, director of Kern County Public Health, said in a statement. "Vaccination remains the quickest and safest way to protect ourselves and our families from the impacts of COVID-19."
Public Health recommends the vaccine for children as a safe, effective way to protect them from COVID-19 and reduce community transmission as well as disruptions to in-person learning and activities.
Distribution of the smaller pediatric doses of Pfizer began this week, along with the smaller needles that administer them.
Young children will receive two doses, three weeks apart, that are a third of the dose for those 12 years old and older.
Public Health Department spokeswoman Michelle Corson said the county is awaiting its shipment of doses. It will administer them at its Kern County Fairgrounds vaccination clinic.
Local pediatricians, doctors and pharmacies are preparing to administer the shots as well.
Dr. Nimisha Amin, a pediatrician at Southwest Pediatrics in Bakersfield, said the first vaccine clinic for 5- to 11-year-olds will be held Thursday.
Kaiser Permanente will begin administering the vaccine to this age group when it receives supply and the CDC issues clinical guidance, according to spokeswoman Eva Ramirez. She said members will receive information about how to schedule appointments for their children shortly.
CVS Health announced that it will begin to offer pediatric doses of the vaccine at select locations starting Sunday. It is now accepting appointments.
COVID-19 cases in children can result in hospitalization, death, Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) and long-term complications, such as long COVID, in which symptoms can linger for months, according to the CDC.
In Kern County, there have been 138 hospitalizations among those under 18 years of age, according to Corson. Of those, 107 hospitalizations have been among those aged 5 to 17 years. There have been 21 cases of MIS-C identified, and 57 percent of those children were admitted to an intensive care unit.
According to the CDC, 691 deaths from COVID-19 have been reported in the U.S. in individuals less than 18 years of age as of Oct. 17. Of those deaths, 146 were among children 5 through 11 years old.
Before the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended the vaccine, it was studied in about 3,100 children ages 5 through 11. The vaccine was found to be 90.7 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 in children ages 5 through 11. No serious side effects were detected in the ongoing study.
Parents and other caretakers interested in the vaccination can make an appointment on https://MyTurn.ca.gov. The Kern County Public Health Department’s map of vaccination providers has been updated to include information about which locations will be offering pediatric vaccinations. Visit the website at https://kernpublichealth.com/
Kern County Public Health’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Kern County Fairgrounds is open Tuesday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Walk-ins and scheduled appointments will be welcome.