San Mateo County health officials and partner agencies are gearing up to host “kid-friendly” COVID-19 vaccine clinics for children ages of 5 to 11 now that regional experts have given the treatment the green light. 

“Parents and children have waited a long time for their turn to be vaccinated and we want to give them an experience that is positive. … We are excited to finally protect our children and our community so decided to have a little fun,” County Manager Mike Callagy said in a press release.

A red carpet and familiar cartoon characters will greet families as they enter the county’s first pediatric vaccine clinic this Saturday, Nov. 6, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the San Mateo County Event Center. 

The clinic, featuring various themes like Legoland, Candy Land and Roblox, will also provide families with TVs and life-sized games as entertainment while waiting for their doses and during the 15-minute observation period, read the press release. 

Additional pediatric clinics will be held at the event center from 2:30-7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 10, through Friday, Nov. 12. Families can make appointments for their children through the state’s vaccine clinic website, MyTurn, and slots are limited to just those in the 5 to 11 age group. 

Other eligible groups looking to get their first, second or booster dose will have access to a drive-thru clinic being held simultaneously at the Event Center. Children near 12 years old are still recommended to get the pediatric dose which is a third of the standard dose, Dr. Anand Chabra, medical director of Family Health Services, said. 

Chabra, who has led the county’s mass vaccination effort, said the first walk-through clinic will be more intimate than previous vaccine drive-thru events hosted at the site. Rather than offering thousands of doses, only 200 appointments will be available to ensure the clinic runs smoothly and families feel comfortable. 

“This is a really exciting time that we can finally vaccinate 5- to 11-year-olds. We know people have been eagerly waiting,” Chabra said. “We want to ensure privacy and lots of time to answer questions. We want it to be a very child-friendly environment.” 

Meeting demand

The county could ramp up operations depending on demand, Chabra said, noting many other community partners will also play a key role in getting vaccines into the arms of children including the education community, pharmacies, pediatricians and large medical providers.

Of the roughly 60 pharmacies offering COVID-19 vaccines in the county, 21 are scheduling appointments for pediatric doses, Chabra said.

Dr. Keedra McNeill, a pediatrician with Kaiser Permanente, said during a press briefing Wednesday that clinics through the medical provider would be open to its members starting Monday, Nov. 8, with appointments opening up Thursday.  

“If we receive our allocation sooner than we definitely hope to begin starting that process sooner so that we can really get that protection in line for our youngest members as early as we can,” McNeill said, noting she and her husband took a “big collective sigh of relief” now that their own daughters can be vaccinated.  

A spokesperson for Sutter Health said the provider also intends on scheduling vaccine appointments for younger children soon. 

The San Mateo County Office of Education has also teamed up with County Health to host regional clinics on school campuses which would be accessible to any child regardless of whether they’re enrolled in the district, county Superintendent Nancy Magee said during a community forum last week. 

Specific locations have yet to be released but officials anticipate staging the clinics in the San Mateo-Foster City School District on Nov. 15, the Pacific School District on Nov. 16, Jefferson Elementary School District on Nov. 17 and a Redwood City School District on Nov. 18, Magee said. 

Chabra said the clinics are part of the county’s effort to bring vaccines to underserved communities hit hard by the pandemic but apprehensive about the treatments. Despite a new focus on younger children, unvaccinated people ages 12 and older will remain a key priority, requiring officials to consider all who may need access to vaccines when planning for events and staffing demands, Chabra said. 

“There’s a lot of balancing the competing demands and really keeping equity at the forefront of our minds,” he said.

Standing community clinics established to create better vaccine access for underserved residents are not yet providing pediatric doses but may in the future to meet demand if necessary, Chabra said.

Vaccine safety, concerns 

Recognizing lingering concerns around getting vaccinated, Dr. Nicola Klein, director of the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center, said clinical trials proved the vaccine to be 90.7% effective at preventing COVID-19 infections among children. 

Vaccine side effects are similar to those experienced in older populations, including fatigue and other flu-like symptoms. No children were hospitalized with the virus during the study, Klein noted. 

Sharing her full support for the vaccine as a parent and physician, Klein said the trials were conducted in similar “high-quality standards” used during other vaccine studies Kaiser has conducted over the past 30 years. 

“I have very great confidence in this vaccine and I’m so excited that it’s now available for children of this age,” Klein said. “As a parent I’m just so pleased to see that children are getting vaccinated and they have the opportunity to start to receive the same protections teens and adults have been receiving for the past couple months.” 

Chabra echoed Klein’s message on the safety of the vaccines but encouraged families to speak with their medical providers before being treated if they have additional questions. A medical provider will also be at the county’s clinic to answer questions. 

David Canepa, president of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, shared his support for the vaccines in a press release, noting ‘the experts say it’s safe and will protect children from an infection that can hurt them, and I trust the experts.”  

Looking ahead at cooler winter months when illnesses are easily spread and families are more likely to gather, the medical professionals said the doses are an important measure for protecting oneself and loved ones. 

Officials also argued the doses can serve as a resource for children whose lives have been greatly altered during the pandemic with remote learning, limited peer interactions and the implementation of other safety measures. 

“Let’s face it: the past year and a half has been rough on all of us, and I would say especially for our children,” Callagy said. “Plus, these kids are superheroes for doing their part and we want to celebrate them during their visit.” 

Visit the County Health website at smchealth.org/coronavirus for more information on vaccine clinics. 

sierra@smdailyjournal.com 

(650) 344-5200 ext. 106

Recommended for you

(7) comments

Tommy Tee

Fantastic news!!

Terence Y

The equivalent of strangers offering candy to kids to get them in the “car.” Beware kids, and parents. This may not turn out well. Remember, your body, your choice. Your kid’s body, your choice, too. Make a well-informed decision by doing the research. If your kid takes the plunge, will any maladies afflicting them in the near and far future be due to this jab from a non-FDA approved potion? BTW, what happened to cold hard cash? I’d request a prepaid life insurance policy, too.

LittleFoot

Well said

Lou

Agree,, well said Terence. See for a great education....... .........https://www.theepochtimes.com/facts-matter-nov-6-anti-vaccine-mandate-protesters-explain-why-they-would-rather-lose-their-jobs-

Tafhdyd

Lou,

Your link didn't work so I tried checking the Epoch times directly and it wasn't listed. It's not surprising because they probably had to take it down for bogus info. The EpoopTimes specializes in right wing bunk and conspiracy theories based on unreliable sources, it wouldn't be of interest to anyone except those that already believe in the lies they propagate.

Lou

Try this link to the article......(I have never known an article to be removed, but sometimes it does take a "subscription" to view.)

Try.......Facts Matter (Nov. 6): Vaccine Mandate Protesters Explain Why They Would Rather Lose Their Jobs Than Get the Shot https://www.theepochtimes.com/facts-matter-nov-6-anti-vaccine-mandate-protesters-explain-why-they-would-rather-lose-their-jobs-than-get-the-shot_4090174.html?utm_source=sharenewsnoe&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=breaking-2021-11-07-1 Subscribe to The Epoch Times: https://ept.ms/newsletters

Tafhdyd

The second link worked but they want you to sign up to see the whole thing. Thanks but no thanks, I don't need to waste time on a Trump conspiracy peddling paper owned by a Chinese cult. A friend that is right wing sent me a couple of copies last year.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Thank you for visiting the Daily Journal.

Please purchase an Enhanced Subscription to continue reading. To continue, please log in, or sign up for a new account.

We offer one free story view per month. If you register for an account, you will get two additional story views. After those three total views, we ask that you support us with a subscription.

A subscription to our digital content is so much more than just access to our valuable content. It means you’re helping to support a local community institution that has, from its very start, supported the betterment of our society. Thank you very much!