Santa Clara County preps COVID shots for infants and young children

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The youngest population in Santa Clara County could soon get vaccinated for COVID-19.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday authorized both the Moderna and Pfizer shots for children as young as 6 months old—making nearly every person in the U.S. eligible for vaccination. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still have to approve the vaccines, but White House officials have said they are expecting vaccinations to begin as soon as next Tuesday.

Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said officials have planned for weeks to welcome the youngest residents to its vaccination sites for a shot. About 91.7% of the eligible county population is vaccinated and 68% is boosted.

“We are ready,” Cody said Friday, noting it’s been challenging for parents and families of young children without the vaccines.

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The county will have three vaccination clinics where parents can take their children, including the Santa Clara County fairgrounds, the San Martin vaccination site at 80 Highland Ave. and a new site in Mountain View opening next week. Officials estimate there are about 100,000 children younger than 5 in the county.

The vaccines for the youngest population come as COVID-19 infections are on the rise again. Santa Clara County is seeing a seven-day rolling average of 1,082 new infections as of this week. That number was approximately 224 in early March when the county decided to ditch its indoor public mask mandate.

Children tend to develop milder symptoms when infected by COVID-19 such as low-grade fever, fatigue and cough, health experts said. Cody noted that children under 5 are most likely to be hospitalized for COVID among all youth populations at the national level. Children can also suffer from long COVID symptoms, she added.

The doses for infants through preschoolers are much smaller than what adults receive. Children 6 months to 4 years old could get the Pfizer vaccine, which is administered in three doses and is about 75% effective at preventing infection from the omicron variant in children 6 months to 2 years old and 82% effective in children 2 to 4 years old.

Parents could also choose the Moderna vaccine, which is administered in two doses for children 6 months to 5 years old. The shots are about 51% effective at preventing infection from omicron for kids 6 months to 2 years old, and about 37% effective for kids ages 2 to 5 years old.

“As the mom of a 2-year-old, who is just so relieved to finally be able to see my child, I certainly am going to be online scheduling the very first appointment I can get her to either vaccine,” said Dr. Sarah Rudman, assistant health officer, urging parents to get their children vaccinated even if they were previously infected. “You may get a little bit of protection after you were sick, but the added protection of getting vaccinated afterwards is significant and helps reduce serious disease.”

Parents can get their children vaccinated for free through the county health system, their medical providers and drop-in clinics. Click here for more information.

Contact Tran Nguyen at [email protected] or follow @nguyenntrann on Twitter.

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