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LA County Readies Hundreds Of Sites To Administer COVID Vaccine To 5-11 Year-Olds

A medical practitioner wearing a mask and gloves gives an injection to a masked young man who is holding up his right sleeve.
Anthony Briseño, 20, receives his first Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine administered by Medical Assistant Karina Cisneros from St. John's Well Child and Family Center at Abraham Lincoln High School in Los Angeles on April, 2021.
(FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images
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More than 900,000 children 5- to-11 years of age in Los Angeles could become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as next week. That’s when federal health officials are expected to authorize the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for that age group.

On Tuesday, a Food and Drug Administration panel accepted Pfizer’s data indicating the vaccine is safe and 90.7% effective in preventing COVID-19 infections in the 5-to-11 age group, the first step in issuing an emergency use authorization for the shots.

If the FDA authorizes the vaccine for younger children, another panel of experts advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would make its own recommendations and offer guidelines as soon as Nov. 3.

Information on the Pfizer COVID vaccine for 5 to 11 year olds.
Courtesy of the L.A. County Dept. of Public Health)
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“We're positioned to have almost 150,000 pediatric doses of the Pfizer vaccine available next week,” L.A. County Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Thursday at her weekly briefing. “[The vaccine] will be at all of the providers who are approved to vaccinate children.”

A map will be posted on the L.A. County Department of Public Health’s website on Nov. 1 to help parents find a pediatric vaccination site, Ferrer said.

“Many pharmacies have indicated that they will be offering vaccines to 5-to-11 year-olds, as well all of our county sites, mobile sites and school sites. Parents and caregivers can also check with their children's pediatrician to see if they'll be administering COVID vaccines once they are approved by the CDC,” she said.

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children under 12 is given in two doses about three weeks apart. It’s also smaller, containing one-third of the adult dose. FDA officials say there were virtually no severe adverse effects related to the vaccine in clinical trials.

A bar graph showing that unvaccinated people are hospitalized with COVID-19 at far higher rates than vaccinated people in L.A.
Courtesy of the L.A. County Dept. of Public Health)

Los Angeles County, like much of the state, is experiencing a plateau in transmission, Ferrer said.

“Although all of our metrics continued to decrease slightly, and again, this is as of a week ago. The rate of decrease is slowing,” Ferrer said.

L.A. County is averaging more than 1,000 new cases reported each day, with 630 people hospitalized due to the virus and eight people dying daily.

What questions do you have about the pandemic and health care?
Jackie Fortiér helps Southern Californians understand the pandemic by identifying what's working and what's not in our health response.