LA County Administering COVID Vaccines to Kids Under 5 Starting Today

The approval applies to vaccines manufactured by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech.

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Babies and children under age 5 can start getting vaccinated against COVID-19 on Tuesday, with Los Angeles County health officials offering the shots now that federal officials have approved them for the youngest Americans.

LA County Health Department: Find a Vaccination Location

A panel of advisers for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unanimously approved giving COVID-19 vaccines to children as young as 6 months old on Saturday. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed off on the decision later in the day.

Parents can start making appointments at pharmacies in LA County now.

CVS is offering the shots at select locations as doses are delivered, through its in-store minute clinics. Eligible children age 18 months to 4 years can get the shot at any of those CVS stores.

The approval applies to vaccines manufactured by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech.

“We have been preparing for this moment,'' President Joe Biden tweeted. "Our Administration has already secured vaccine doses for America's youngest and are now launching a comprehensive effort with states, local health departments, America's pediatricians, family doctors, and more to help get shots into arms."

County health officials noted that young children are considered at lower risk of becoming severely ill or dying from COVID, but they said the risk is higher among unvaccinated children. They also contend that unvaccinated children are at higher risk of developing Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, or MIS-C.

According to the county, over the past three months, unvaccinated children aged 12-17 were nearly four times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID than vaccinated children. Among vaccine-eligible children in the county who contracted confirmed cases of MIS-C, 65% were unvaccinated, officials said. 

“As we have seen with adults, children can experience short and long-term health problems from COVID-19,'' county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. "Vaccinations are a proven safety measure that protects your entire family, including now your youngest children, from severe illness and death from COVID. The development and approval of the vaccines for children under age 5 have gone through a rigorous evaluation and approval process as with all other routine childhood vaccines."

“As we make plans to gather with family and to enjoy the summer and upcoming holidays, now is the time to make sure that all our children are fully vaccinated. Vaccinated children and adults add an essential layer of protection for the entire community, especially with the proliferation of new, highly infectious variants.''

Covid vaccines will soon be available for children under 5 years old. Some parents are overjoyed, while others still have concerns. Vikki Vargas reports on the NBC4 News at 4pm on Monday, June 20, 2022.

The Pfizer vaccine is a three-dose series, tailored to children 6 months to 4 years old. Moderna's vaccine is a two-dose series, designed for children 6 months to 5 years old.

The doses are downsized, not the same size as the ones used for older children or for adults.

However, just because the vaccines are available doesn't mean all parents are jumping at the chance to get the jab for their children.

"We're just weighing our options, just a little indifferent, just want to make sure we do our research and our due diligence before we go forward," one mom to a 2-year-old in Orange County told NBC4.

The hesitancy on the part of parents is nothing new. Only 33% of children between age 5 and age 11 have gotten vaccinated, and they've been eligible since November.

But health experts and doctors have been saying the vaccines for children will be safe for months.

"I would put a lot of trust in the FDA’s seal of approval," Dr. Nicole J. Van Groningen of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center told NBC4 at the end of May. "The FDA looks at trials in kids very rigorously."

If she had children that age, she said, she would have no issue getting them vaccinated.

"The risks are far exceeded by the benefits," Van Groningen said.

Public health officials are well aware of continued concerns about side effects and safety, and advise talking to your doctor.

"If we have a safe and effective vaccine, and you're willing to talk to your healthcare provider about whether it's right for you, the benefits are clear," said Dr. Mark Ghaly of the California Health and Human Services Agency. "And especially with some unknowns moving forward, it's a very worthwhile conversation to have."

Meanwhile, the number of COVID-positive patients in county hospitals increased by another 27 people to 639, according to the state data released Saturday. Of those patients, 67 were being treated in intensive care, down from 69 on Friday.

The county reported another 5,122 COVID infections Friday, raising the cumulative total from throughout the pandemic to 3,057,004. Another five virus-related deaths were also reported, lifting the overall death toll to 32,250.

The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus rose again, reaching 9.3%. Ferrer said the percentage is likely to rise as the volume of daily testing decreases due to schools being out of session. 

The county does not report COVID data on weekends.

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