Adolescents age 12 through 15 can now receive COVID-19 vaccinations in Santa Clara County, and they don’t even need an appointment.
“Everything is lined up and in place to make getting a vaccine as simple and hassle-free as possible,” said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, COVID-19 testing and vaccine officer. “We have the vaccine supply, we have the facilities, we have friendly staff ready and waiting. If you haven’t yet protected yourself and the community from COVID-19 by getting vaccinated, now is definitely the time to do so.”
According to Santa Clara County Public Health, 16,636 or 15.8% of 12- to 15-year-olds have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“The county is confident in the safety and efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine for youth ages 12 and older,” a public health spokesperson said. “Studies showed that it is safe and provides strong protection against COVID-19 for youth ages 12 to 17.”
Drop-in vaccinations are available throughout San Jose and Santa Clara County at locations including Eastridge Mall, Fairgrounds Expo Hall and Tully Community Branch Library. Local pharmacies such as CVS, Costco, Lucky, Rite Aid, Safeway and Walmart also offer COVID-19 shots.
For additional drop-in locations or to make an appointment, visit sccfreevax.org.
With the recent approval of the Pfizer vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds, Santa Clara County said it will ensure the vaccine is available at all mass vaccination and community-based mobile sites. The county is also working with pediatricians to get kids inoculated.
Dr. Pronoti Nigam of Evergreen Pediatrics told San José Spotlight that ideally everyone should be vaccinated, kids and adults alike. She said kids could become carriers and spread COVID-19 to their grandparents.
“Although it’s not common in kids, some do get COVID, and the virus is mutating,” Nigam said. “There is no guarantee there won’t be more sick kids. They can’t live in a bubble.”
Nigam said getting kids vaccinated is especially important if they’re attending daycare, camp, school or participating in sports.
“The Pfizer vaccine is safe and effective, and I’m thrilled that more of our young people can now get vaccinated to protect themselves, protect their community and safely return to more activities,” Dr. Sara Cody, director of public health, said in a statement.
To date, 118,687 county residents have tested positive for COVID-19 and 2,098 have died. About 1,210,744 residents 16 and older—75.2%—have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. About 953,621 people, or 59.2%, have received two doses.
Minors require a person legally authorized to make health care decisions for them to be present at their appointments to sign the consent form, or they must bring the signed consent form to their appointments. If their legal guardian can’t attend the appointment, they must be available by phone at the time of the appointment.
“Our system stands ready to welcome newly eligible youth for their vaccinations,” said Dr. Jennifer Tong, associate chief medical officer for Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. “Wherever you live in the county, we have a site nearby and we’ve expanded evening and weekend hours.”
To ensure equitable vaccine access for communities hardest hit by COVID-19, the county is partnering with schools and other community organizations to offer drop-in vaccination clinics, including at James Lick High School, Overfelt High School and Mexican Heritage Plaza in East San Jose.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for 12- through 15-year-olds is another important step toward getting out of the pandemic and closer to normalcy.
“Getting adolescents vaccinated means their faster return to social activities, and can provide parents and caregivers peace of mind knowing their family is protected,” Walensky said.
The CDC cautioned that while most children with COVID-19 have mild or no symptoms, some can get severely ill and require hospitalization. There have also been rare cases of children dying from COVID-19 and its effects, including from multisystem inflammatory syndrome.
Walensky recommends parents who want more information before having their children get a COVID vaccine speak with their healthcare provider or family doctor. She also recommends having kids caught up on all routine immunizations.
To find the vaccination site closest to you, visit vaccines.gov; text your ZIP code to 438829 (GETVAX); or call 1-800-232-0233.
Contact Lorraine Gabbert at [email protected]