Low-dose COVID-19 vaccine approved for children 5-11

Intensive Care Unit nurse Kathy Brady looks on as Pharmacist, Courtney Mattley, left, draws the first dose of Pfizer BioNTech, Covid-19 vaccine before administering it to Brady at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital in Valencia on Thursday, 121720. Dan Watson/The Signal

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday emergency use authorization of a low-dose COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer-BioNTech for children ages 5-11.

The move expands vaccine eligibility to about 28 million children in the U.S. in this age group, including an estimated 900,000 children in Los Angeles County alone, allowing providers to begin vaccinating children Wednesday morning.

President Joe Biden called the decision “a turning point in our battle against COVID-19,” in a prepared statement issued Tuesday.

“We have already secured enough vaccine supply for every child in America, and over the past weekend, we began the process of packing and shipping out millions of pediatric vaccine doses,” Biden added in the statement.

Similar to the results of the adult trials, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was nearly 91% effective in preventing COVID-19 among children aged 5-11 years, according to the CDC.

Side effects were also mild in children during clinical trials, with the most common side effect being a sore arm.

The latest data from the CDC show that 172 children ages 5-11 have died from COVID-19 and more than 8,300 have been hospitalized. 

Since last March, L.A. County has seen nearly 80,000 COVID-19 cases among children in this age group, almost 400 of whom were hospitalized, according to county Department of Public Health officials.

Children in this age group also reportedly had the highest number of cases of MIS-C among children, a severe condition that affects multiple organs and can be fatal, according to the CDC.

“Vaccinating children will help protect them from getting COVID-19 and therefore reducing their risk of severe disease, hospitalizations or developing long-term COVID-19 complications,” the CDC stated.

On Wednesday, the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, which includes California, announced they’d deemed the vaccine “safe and effective” for children 5-11 after conducting their own review.

“This expanded eligibility for lifesaving vaccines moves us closer to ending the pandemic, which has taken a heavy toll on the well-being of our kids,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a prepared statement Wednesday. “I urge families to get the facts on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine and take action to protect themselves and loved ones from COVID-19, especially as we head into the winter months.”

The state was allocated 1.2 million pediatric doses from the federal government, according to Newsom, and here in L.A. County, Public Health officials are prepared to administer vaccines to children in this age group through a network of nearly 900 providers countywide with county mobile vaccination teams also working to supplement vaccinations, according to Director Barbara Ferrer.

“As with other vaccines used to protect children from transmission of dangerous diseases including measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, and polio, vaccines are all tested to ensure they are safe and effective for children to receive,” Ferrer said in a prepared statement Wednesday. “Children who receive their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine this week will be able to get their second dose in 21 days — just in time to be fully protected before the winter holidays.”

Later this month, low-dose vaccines will be offered to children at 480 school-based events with a focus on schools in high-need areas, according to Public Health officials.

About 76% of eligible Santa Clarita Valley residents ages 12 and older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to Public Health data through Oct. 28.

In the city of Santa Clarita alone, more than 151,000, or 80% of eligible residents, have received at least one dose.

As of Oct. 28, more than 13.2 million total doses of the vaccine had been administered in L.A. County, 5.7 million of which were reportedly second doses and approximately 537,000 of which were third doses.

Approximately 7 million eligible county residents ages 12 and older, or 80%, have reportedly received at least one dose.

Since June 2020, there have been 11 instances of schools with elementary-aged students in the SCV being cited by Public Health for a lack of compliance with health officer orders.

The schools include Sant Clarita Christian School, Trinity Classical Academy and Legacy Christian Academy.

Of those citations, six occurred in the last month, four of which were at Legacy and two at Trinity.

Children in L.A. County can now get vaccinated at select, walk-up clinics countywide when accompanied by a parent or responsible adult with a signed consent form. For more information on L.A. County’s vaccination efforts, visit VaccinateLACounty.com. 

County Public Health officials also released the following updated COVID-19 statistics Wednesday:

Countywide COVID-19 cases reported in the past 24 hours: 1,605

Total COVID-19 cases in L.A. County: 1,496,593

New deaths related to COVID-19 reported in the past 24 hours: 22

Total COVID-19 deaths in L.A. County: 26,683

Hospitalizations countywide: 653, 25% of which are in the ICU.

Hospitalizations at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital as of Nov. 1: 21, with 1,595 discharged since the onset of the pandemic.

COVID-19 cases reported in the Santa Clarita Valley in the past 24 hours: 128, 91 of which came from the city of Santa Clarita

Total COVID-19 cases in the SCV: 37,467

Total COVID-19 deaths in the SCV as of Nov. 2: 349

Percentage of vaccinated people (at least one dose) in the city of Santa Clarita as of Oct. 28: 80.2%

Percentage of vaccinated people (at least one dose) in the SCV as of Oct. 28: 76.2%

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