Los Angeles County received its first shipment of pediatric doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday, the same day a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee approved the shots for kids aged 5-11.
The committee’s approval follows the OK given last week by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Once CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky gives final approval — possibly Tuesday or Wednesday — the shots will immediately become available to those aged 5-11.
Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said there are 900 providers in the county that will be ready to administer the pediatric doses.
“Sites that receive doses today might be able to start vaccinations as early as tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon or Thursday,” Ferrer told the county Board of Supervisors. She said the county received its first shipment of pediatric doses Tuesday, with the county expecting to receive a total of nearly 300,000 doses within the next week to 10 days. According to Ferrer, there are about 900,000 kids aged 5-11 in the county.
“We don’t anticipate scarcity, and we expect that there will be ample vaccines to meet demand,” she said.
While the pediatric shots are a lower dosage than the adult vaccine, the doses must be given on the same schedule — two shots administered 21 days apart. Ferrer noted that children must have a signed consent form from an adult to receive the shot, and some vaccination sites require them to be accompanied by an adult.
The pediatric shots will be offered under an emergency use authorization, the same authorization given to the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, and to the Pfizer vaccine for people aged 12-15. Pfizer’s vaccine has full federal approval for people aged 16 and up.
According to Ferrer, there have been more than 79,000 COVID cases during the pandemic among children aged 5-11 in the county, and one fatality. About 37,000 cases have occurred in kids up to age 4, also with one death, and more than 89,000 cases in those aged 12-17, with five deaths.
“Over the week ending Oct. 10, 12% of L.A. County cases were in children aged 5-11, and children in this age group comprise 9% of the county’s population,” Ferrer said last week.
In Los Angeles County, 80% of residents aged 12 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine, while 72% are fully vaccinated, according to the county. Among the county’s overall population of 10.3 million people, including those under age 12 who aren’t yet eligible for the shots, 69% have received at least one dose, and 61% are fully vaccinated. Black residents continue to have the lowest vaccination rates, with just 56% having received at least one dose. That compares with 64% of Latino/a residents, 74% of white residents and 83% of Asians. Younger Black residents have particularly low vaccination rates, with the youngest age group at 43% with at least one dose.