Written by Breanna Hardy
The Central Valley is now issuing the Pfizer vaccine to adolescents as young as 12 years old.
The State of California is allowing parents and guardians to make appointments for their teens through MyTurn.
This comes as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration amended the Pfizer vaccine’s Emergency Use Authorization to allow administration for 12- to 15-year-olds following clinical trials that proved it safe for this age group.
“The more Californians who are able to get vaccinated, the better we can protect our communities and slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “Our efforts to protect the health and wellbeing of Californians are paying off, as we’re now leading the country with over 32 million vaccines administered and some of the lowest positivity rates in the entire country. Having vaccines expanded to teenagers is the next step in California’s path to safely reopening next month.”
Kings County is not taking walk-up appointments, and encourages the community to make appointments through MyTurn. Fresno County has many clinics that offer the Pfizer vaccine, which is the only Covid-19 vaccine approved for teens 12 to 18 years old.
“The announcement allows our younger population to be protected and to protect their families and friends, and allows for a greater sense of normalcy for this age group,” Tulare County Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Haught said. “The pandemic has been especially hard on children, young adults, and our vulnerable populations. Taking another step toward normalcy is a critical step in public health efforts to lessen the burden that has been felt in so many ways, by so many people.”
The CDC also gave the green light for teenagers to receive the Pfizer vaccine alongside other vaccines they might be due for, like the meningitis vaccine.
Central California clinicians have also treated almost 100 cases of Multi-Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), a severe illness consequence of Covid-19 infection that requires hospitalization and intensive care. The age expansion will reach a greater population in the race for lowered cases, while also reducing the risk of MIS-C.
Expanding the age bracket of those eligible to receive the vaccine could curb the spread of variants. There are approximately 517 variant cases in the region, with 300 being California variants, about 93 from the U.K. and the rest from South Africa.
Joe Prado, community health division manager for Fresno County, said about 4,000 doses are being administered per week.
“A little bit of a stabilization but better than a decline,” said Prado.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine safety review panel and the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup recommended last week that the vaccine is safe and effective in protecting this age group against severe illness, hospitalization and death.
“Fighting for our kids is something that unites all of us in Fresno County, and this announcement from FDA allows us to protect teens as well as their most vulnerable and at-risk relatives and contacts here in Central California,” says Dr Rais Vohra, Fresno County Interim Health Officer. “Having the vaccine available for younger populations is critical to reducing the health impact and burden of the virus, and getting our entire community back to operating at a normal level.”