The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health held a COVID-19 vaccination town hall for parents Tuesday night to update the public about the vaccine information for children.
Debra Duardo, superintendent of Los Angeles County Office of Education, joined a group of five medical professionals, including Barbara Ferrer, the county Public Health Department’s director, who moderated the town hall.
“We don’t want to discriminate or make any child who hasn’t been vaccinated feel like they’re going to be bullied or picked on,” Duardo said about mask-wearing on school campuses. “The best thing for us to do is just to continue with all of the health provisions that are in place to ensure safety.”
As graduation season nears, parents also asked questions about ceremonies and after-graduation parties.
“We’re not going to require that students be vaccinated to participate in the graduation ceremonies,” said Duardo. “But you should check with your local school district to find out what their plans are for their graduation ceremony.”
Ferrer agreed, noting mask wearing and social distancing requirements will be observed at graduation ceremonies to fight against community transmission of COVID-19.
Dr. Muntu Davis, a public health officer with the county’s Public Health Department, said people should follow the county’s protocols for private events when planning a party for their graduates.
“If people are fully vaccinated, then you can have a small group of attendees, 50 or less, indoors in order to eat and drink without masking and physical distancing. And if it were outdoors and people are fully vaccinated, again you can do it without physical distancing and masking,” Davis said.
Children younger than 12 may be the only people not vaccinated at these events and in the household, generally.
“If the children are not at high risk, meaning they don’t have an underlying condition that puts them at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, as long as those are the only unvaccinated people who are in that gathering (and) everybody else is vaccinated, then it’s pretty safe to gather either indoors or outdoors,” said Davis.
Parents also asked about strategies to motivate young people to get vaccinated. Dr. Nava Yeganeh, a county pediatrician, said her recent experiences have provided some insights.
“What we really realized is that, although they care about their health, they’re really focused on making sure they don’t spread disease to their family, they want to make sure that their family is safe,” Yeganeh said, noting that the benefit of not having to quarantine also motivated young people. “I do feel like young people are really excited to go back into the social atmosphere of being around with their friends, and definitely being vaccinated will allow them to get there faster.”
Yeganeh also advised that parents consider taking their children to the pediatrician to get their COVID-19 vaccine.
“A lot of children haven’t received some of their well-child checks and some other very important vaccinations that are not COVID-19,” she said, noting it is safe for children to receive their COVID-19 vaccine along with other vaccines. “We do know that people have not been going to their doctors as regularly as they should be during the pandemic, so this might be a good opportunity to check many boxes at the same time.”
The full protocols are available online at http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/media/coronavirus/docs/protocols/Reopening_PrivateEvents.pdf