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Vaccines for young kids now in Contra Costa but not mandated yet for school

on November 5, 2021

A pediatric COVID-19 vaccine has been approved and Contra Costa County is preparing to vaccinate children between the ages of 5 and 11.

On Tuesday, following the Food and Drug Administration’s emergency clearance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unanimously approved a pediatric dose of the Pfizer vaccination for younger children. The FDA has approved the vaccine for older children in May.

The news comes just a few weeks after West Contra Costa Unified, Oakland Unified and other California school districts enacted coronavirus vaccine mandates for children ages 12 and up. Those decisions preceded Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order of a state-wide mandate on Oct. 1 that will require vaccines for public school students, beginning in the term after those vaccines are fully approved. For grades seven to 12, that likely won’t be before July, the governor’s office has said.

Contra Costa County Health Services said Monday in a news release that thousands of pediatric doses of Pfizer’s vaccine have already been pre-ordered in anticipation and that about 20,000 doses of the pediatric vaccine for county and partner clinics were expected to arrive this week. Other health care providers and pharmacies also are stocking up.

“I know a lot of parents have been waiting a long time to be able to get their younger kids vaccinated,” Diane Burgis, chair of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, said in the release. “We’re almost there. If everything goes right, parents will be able to get their children fully vaccinated before the winter holidays.”

In WCCUSD, the mandate already is in place for kids over 12, who must be fully vaccinated by the end of the month. The school board has tabled discussion about vaccines for younger kids.

The decision to approve the initial vaccine mandate did not come easily for the board. 

Some parents and teachers spoke out with concern for both their right as parents to choose and for potentially unknown long-term side effects.

Even after the formal endorsement of the vaccine by Contra Costa Public Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano, the school board failed to agree unanimously, with trustee Jamela Smith-Folds voting against the measure. She felt the board was not prepared to address the repercussions of a mandate.

County Health Services is partnering with vaccine clinics at John Muir Health, Kaiser, La Clinica and Lifelong Medical. Parents can schedule appointments to have their children vaccinated.

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