The CDC is expected to expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to individuals under 12 years old in October — leaving San Francisco to plan on opening a massive amount of vaccination sites to inoculate these kids, as well as accommodate those eligible for a "booster" dose.
SARS-CoV-2 was not too long ago talked about as a pathogen that, more or less, only affected adults. Infections among the youth were far less common; when a young person did become infected, their symptoms were statistically less severe than those observed in adults. However, that's all changed with a growing amount of variants of either "interest" or "concern" — the Delta variant, R.1, the Mu strain, etc. — swirling around, causing not only breakthrough cases to rise but also instances of severe illness in young people. Thankfully, the CDC is expected to soon authorize permission to use the two-dose Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children younger than 12 years old, which will undoubtedly help drive down infections amongst the youths.
In preparation for the influx of kids seeking out inoculations, San Francisco is working on establishing some 100 vaccination sites that predominantly cater to this new cohort of suitable patients. The sites, too, are expected to make it easier for those eligible for a supplemental COVID-19 vaccine — which, in California, includes individuals 65 years and older, people with certain underlying health conditions, and frontline medical workers — to receive that “booster” dose.
Get vaccinated this week at any one of our @SFUnified school vax sites in partnership with @SF_DCYF. #VaccinateSF— SFDPH (@SF_DPH) September 20, 2021
🍎 Malcolm X Academy, Tuesdays, 3:30p-6:30p
📚 Balboa HS, Wednesdays, 2:30p-5:30p
📝 McCoppin ES, Saturdays, 10:30a-1:30p
🖍️ Sunset ES, Sundays, 10:30a-1:30p pic.twitter.com/whbDLlBPyQ
"There's going to be a lot of flexibility brought in," said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong — a professor of medicine and infectious diseases at UCSF — about the City's plan to vaccinate the youth to KTVU.
Per the news outlet, the San Francisco Department of Public Health expects that there will be nearly 100 places available for families to bring their kids for the vaccination when children under 12 do inevitably become eligible. If reaching any one of these yet-announced sites proves too inconvenient, health officials recommend parents or legal guardians bring children to private care clinics, pediatricians offices, and local pharmacies if those are available and more convenient options. Whatever option would make the child feel more comfortable and most receptive to receive the vaccine should be heeded.
Populations who may receive a booster dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s #COVID19 Vaccine:— CDC (@CDCgov) September 24, 2021
- People ages 18–49 w/ an underlying medical condition
- People ages 18–64 who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure & because of the setting they work or reside
More: https://t.co/77CTFuJFcO pic.twitter.com/qiUbdeolft
It's believed that these vaccination sites will exist in tandem with the four school-vaccine sites in SF currently in operation; those sites will reportedly be able to expand to accommodate about 250 vaccination per day when kids under 12 years old become eligible — helpful, yes, but a drop in the bucket. Given the most recent numbers procured by the Census Reporter, there are well over 70,000 residents 11 years and younger in San Francisco.
With that considered: It's not too much of a stretch to assume mass vaccination sites, like the one previously at the Moscone Center, could return.
"We anticipate a capacity to administer 25,000 vaccine doses per week across these sites to collectively meet demand from eligible children, adults seeking first-time vaccination, and third-dose boosters for those who qualify," reads a news release from SFDPH. "We must underscore that our highest priority will be to ensure access to first and second doses for all members of our community, including children ages 5-11 when they become eligible."
It's worth reiterating that all the current COVID-19 vaccines are incredibly efficacious in protecting patients from the worst of the disease. Those who have completed a full vaccination series are 17 times less likely to end up hospitalized with COVID-19 complications; studies reviewed by the CDC so far show that vaccinated people are 8 times less likely to be infected by SARS-CoV-2 — including by any variants of the pathogen.
Get vaccinated. Wear a mask, when and where appropriate. Don't get your public health information from podcast hosts who's ingested a horse dewormer.
For more information on Covid-19 vaccines, as well as how to receive one in the City and County of San Francisco, visit sf.gov/get-vaccinated-against-covid-19.
Photo: Getty Images/portishead1