What you need to know after FDA approval

Federal regulators have approved booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines for the youngest group of Americans yet, paving the way for deployments for Bay Area children ages 5 to 11 starting this weekend -end.

The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday granted emergency use authorization for the Pfizer/BioNTech recall for the new age group.

But before parents can take their children to the pediatrician or local pharmacy for the vaccine, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must officially recommend the booster for the new age group.

The agency’s advisory committee on immunization practices is expected to discuss the vaccine and release its recommendation at a meeting on Thursday.

A regional advisory body, the Western States Scientific Safety Review Task Force, and California state health officials will also be involved — their advice generally following CDC recommendations.

Although reminders for children ages 5 to 11 are likely to get the green light, it may take a few days for pharmacies and other health care providers to update their guidelines and expand their online registrations and visits without see you at this new group. Check online or call ahead to determine availability (see below for Bay Area options).

Vaccines for children under 5 — the only age group currently not eligible — have still not been approved by federal regulators, but a decision could come as early as June after months of delays for further study. optimal dosage levels.

After the CDC’s expected approval this week, children ages 5 to 11 will be eligible for booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine — the only one approved for use in children in the United States — at least five months after completing the series of primary vaccination, with a 10 microgram dose, compared to the 30 microgram doses provided to adults and children 12 years and older. After trials showed a strong immune response in children 5 to 11 years old, Pfizer submitted an application to the FDA for emergency use authorization for a booster dose for the age group.

The spread of the omicron variant has made recalls for young children more urgent, federal officials said Tuesday.

“While it has been largely true that COVID-19 tends to be less severe in children than in adults, the omicron wave has seen more children falling ill with the disease and being hospitalized, and children may also experience longer-term effects, even after initially having mild illness,” FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said in a press release.

However, the demand for boosters among the younger group is unclear. According to state data, just 35% of children ages 5 to 11 across California had completed the first round of COVID-19 vaccines as of Tuesday, compared to 84.2% for the most vaccinated group, those age 65. years and older, and an overall statewide rate. of 75.2%. Experts attribute the low vaccination rate among the youngest eligible group to parental hesitancy and the perception that children are less exposed to COVID.

Recall use among currently eligible children, ages 12 to 17, is also the lowest of any age group in the state, at just 35.4%, compared to 75.4% for those aged 12 to 17. 65 and older and an overall rate of 59.1% statewide.

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In San Francisco, however, childhood vaccination rates are higher: Department of Public Health officials said Tuesday that 73% of children ages 5 to 11 received their primary series, and more than 90% of children 12 to 17 years old are fully immunized. Booster usage for 12 to 17 year olds is 54%, also above state and national averages, they said.

Health officials in several Bay Area counties said they expect to roll out boosters for children ages 5 to 11 as early as this weekend and don’t expect any issues. supply for the new group.

“As in the past, when vaccine/booster eligibility expands, we expect there will be an initial increase in demand among the newly eligible group, but this should be manageable,” Will Harper wrote. – spokesperson for Contra Costa County Health Services, in an email. .

Once boosters become available for children ages 5-11, here’s how to find a dose in the Bay Area:

Health providers

San Francisco health officials have encouraged families to contact their own pediatric healthcare provider, if they have one, to access a reminder and to schedule an appointment with their doctor if available.

My turn

The state of California’s website, myturn.ca.gov, provides links for residents to various places to get vaccinated, including pharmacies, health clinics, and hospitals, including walk-in clinics and meeting places based on postal code. You can enter your child’s information and schedule an appointment on the website.

County-run clinics and sites

Each county in the Bay Area hosts its own county-run immunization clinics and events, including at neighborhoods and school sites. Here is a list of vaccine websites for each county:

Alameda County: The county vaccine website, community immunization clinics, county and state clinics, and health care partner clinics, as well as paratransit services for those unable to use public transportation. commmon.

Contra Costa County: Contra Costa Health Services offers community clinics, free mobile vaccination services for workplaces and community organizations, and vaccination services for home residents and group living residents. The county’s vaccine website also lists pop-up and school vaccination clinics, as well as lists of pharmacies, urgent care clinics and private health care providers to get vaccinated.

Marin County: County and pop-up clinics, as well as retail pharmacy vaccine sites, can be found here.

Napa County: The county offers a schedule of vaccination clinics and a list of pharmacies and community and private healthcare providers

San Francisco: Here is the city’s list of vaccine sites which includes links to book appointments, times, types of vaccines offered and more.

San Mateo County: San Mateo County Health operates a number of vaccination clinics throughout the county and special clinic days for pediatric vaccines. More information on vaccination can be found here.

Santa Clara County: The county has a list of walk-in vaccination clinics and a scheduler through the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

Solano County: The county’s vaccine website offers a permanent vaccination clinic at Solano Town Center Mall and community vaccination clinics.

Sonoma County: Find county vaccination clinics and other ways to get vaccinated in Sonoma County here.

Pharmacies

Many pharmacies offer vaccines and boosters, including CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, Safeway, Lucky, Costco and Walmart. You can make an appointment in advance on the websites of individual pharmacies. Walk-in visits may be offered depending on the availability of vaccines.

Kellie Hwang is a staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: kellie.hwang@sfchronicle.comTwitter: @KellieHwang

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