With children as young as 6 months old now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, San Mateo County officials are encouraging guardians to look toward their child’s pediatrician for treatment.
“Vaccines are safe and effective at reducing the worst outcomes from COVID-19 by preventing serious infection, complications, and death related to COVID-19. Getting young children vaccinated will offer them the best protection against the disease that has caused so much harm to families and communities,” Lizelle Lirio de Luna, director of Family Health Services, said in a statement. “Now that vaccines have been approved for children 6 months and older, parents should reach out to their pediatric care provider to ask questions and to make an appointment.”
Tuesday marked the first day children under 5 years old became eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine and county health officials say large health care providers across the county, including Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health and Dignity Health are well prepared to treat the area’s smallest residents.
Unlike previous vaccination initiatives led by the county, a large-scale clinic is not in the plans. Instead, county officials intend to provide vaccine doses to targeted areas hardest hit by the pandemic, largely underserved areas with high populations of Latino, Black and Pacific Islander residents.
“San Mateo County Health has been working with local pediatric health care providers to help them prepare to administer COVID-19 vaccines to children under 5 after approval by the FDA, CDC, and regional and state authorities. The major health care systems have confirmed that they are well prepared to offer vaccination to their patients/members who are under 5,” read a statement from County Health.
In San Mateo County, vaccination rates among communities of color have trailed behind the county’s overall rate and have fallen short of the health officials’ goal to connect at least 80% of every community with a COVID-19 vaccine.
To date, about 89% of all residents ages 5 and older have been fully vaccinated. For Latino residents, that figure drops to about 72% and down even further to 64% for Black residents and to 61% for Pacific Islanders.
Vaccination rates by age group have shown a stronger trend with all groups but the 5 to 11 group surpassing the 80% goal. About 64% of kids ages 5 to 11 are now fully vaccinated.
Tuesday’s expansion to allow younger children to be vaccinated comes as the county experiences a steady increase in COVID-19 cases. In the last 30 days, 11,616 residents have contracted the virus and 43 patients are currently seeking care for COVID-related illnesses.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has placed the county in the medium-risk tier and county officials have encouraged the public to remain vigilant in practicing safety measures including getting vaccinated, staying on schedule with boosters and honoring social distancing and masking when indoors.