School districts and youth groups in Santa Maria will join health care providers in offering COVID-19 vaccines to children aged 5 to 11 after the planned approval of the drug Pfizer as early as next week.
Once the vaccines are distributed to counties by the California Department of Public Health, local health care providers and other licensed distributors can begin delivering the vaccines in small arms.
A local entity is preparing to help with this next phase of the COVID-19 vaccination effort is the Santa Maria-Bonita School District, with officials planning to use the existing structure of COVID-19 testing sites on campus managed by Heal 360 and Inspire Diagnostics.
“We have projects going on with our partners doing testing, and they’re coordinating with public health to be one of the vaccine distributors,” District Superintendent Luke Ontiveros said. “If we can access the approval for those who want to get vaccinated, our hope is to go through the sites we currently have.”
Particular emphasis will be placed on the supply of vaccines in district schools located in the least health equity scores as defined by the state, he added.
The Boys & Girls Club of Mid Central Coast is also gearing up to help by offering community vaccination clinics starting next week at its sites in Santa Maria and Paso Robles.
According to program director Anna Libbon, the Boys & Girls Club will partner with Albertsons Pharmacy and the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department for clinics, which will initially offer vaccines to residents aged 12 and older, then to children aged 5 to 11 once approved.
Clinics at the Santa Maria Boys & Girls Club location at 901 N. Railroad will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on November 2 and 23 and from 5 to 7 p.m. every Wednesday and Friday starting November 10. Residents can register for clinics at centralcoastkids.org/programs/vaccine-clinics.
“We just want to make sure we’re up and moving,” Libbon said. “It is our goal and our hope, to be a place of choice for the young people of the community.”
Emergency use authorization is granted during public health emergencies to medical countermeasures such as vaccines, and requires rigorous testing and testing similar to full approval. Full approval has been granted to the Pfizer vaccine for use in people 16 years of age and older in June.
Many parents have been hesitant to use the COVID-19 vaccine in children, including those 12 years and older who have been eligible for the vaccine since May.
As of this week, 38% of Santa Barbara County residents aged 12 to 15, or about 8,500 young people, have not received a single dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, making it the age group with the lowest vaccination rates, according to county public health data.
COVID-19 affects children less often than adults but can still cause serious illness, According to the CDC. So far, Santa Barbara County public health officials have confirmed more than 5,300 cases of COVID-19 in young people aged 0 to 17, representing about 12% of all cases in the county.
Many parents have also expressed concerns about the state’s plans to require COVID-19 vaccines for all children attending K-12 schools, although this requirement is unlikely to go into effect before the end. spring or fall 2022.
Eligible residents are encouraged to get the COVID-19 vaccine to prevent serious illness and death from the virus, and parents are encouraged to speak with their family doctor if they have any concerns about the vaccine.
The vaccine is free and available regardless of the status of the documentation, and health insurance is not required.
To find a walk-in clinic or an appointment nearby, visit myturn.ca.gov.