Marin sees strong demand for pediatric vaccine

Demand for appointments to vaccinate Marin children exceeded supply this weekend, the Marin County public health officer told county regulators on Tuesday.

The county began administering injections to children ages 5 to 11 last week following approval from state and federal regulators on Nov. 3.

“We started that same day in the afternoon,” said Dr. Matt Willis, the public health officer.

Far greater numbers of children were vaccinated on Saturday and Sunday at Miller Creek Middle School in Marinwood, Lu Sutton Elementary School in Novato, Northgate Mall in San Rafael, and two other community sites.

During the first three days of vaccination, 2,367 Marin children aged 5 to 11 years were vaccinated.

“That exceeded our expectations,” Willis said. “We know there were some parents looking for vaccine appointments that they couldn’t find.”

Willis said the county will post more appointments as it gets more vaccine. It received another 4,000 doses on Monday. He said local pediatricians get their own vaccine supply and children can also be vaccinated at pharmacies.

The county’s success in immunizing younger children did not please a group of vaccine critics who regularly commented on Willis’s biweekly reports to regulators.

Willis said a clinical trial of nearly 3,000 participating children found the Pfizer vaccine to be 91% effective in reducing symptomatic COVID-19 infection.

He said the number of COVID-19 cases involving children aged 5 to 11 accounts for 41% of cases among unvaccinated Marin residents. This is important, as the prevalence of new infections occurs among the unvaccinated.

Local data shows that people who have not been vaccinated in Marin are 25 times more likely to be infected with COVID-19, 84% more likely to be hospitalized because of the virus and 20 times more likely to die.

Willis said the number of COVID-19 cases in Marin has gradually increased as winter approaches and people spend more time indoors. He said the county has an average of about 20 new cases per 100,000 residents per week, placing it in the CDC’s “substantial” transmission category.

Willis said the state and the nation as a whole fall into the CDC’s high transmission category, meaning they see 100 cases per 100,000 residents per week.

Willis said the slight increase in new cases on the ground isn’t as worrisome now as it was earlier in the pandemic, when fewer residents were vaccinated and a higher percentage of those infected required hospitalization.

He said on Tuesday two people in Marin had been hospitalized with COVID-19, and one of them was in intensive care.

At present, 82% of Marin’s population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and more than 44,000 county residents aged 65 or older, approximately 50% of those in this age range, have received booster vaccinations.

Willis reminded the public that while the county has lifted the legal mandate for Marin residents to wear masks indoors in public facilities, state law still requires face coverings in a number of cases, regardless of vaccination status.

These institutions include public transportation, hospitals, long-term care centers, homeless shelters, jails, jails, and schools.

Willis also said his department still recommends that people wear masks as a precaution when indoors in public facilities.

The province is preparing to implement a federal mandate that requires companies with 100 or more employees to fully vaccinate or test their employees every week beginning Jan. 2. The program will be administered and enforced by the California Department of Occupational Safety and Health.

“If done right,” Willis said, “that mandate could boost our vaccination coverage even further.”

On Monday, First Lady Jill Biden and Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy at Franklin Sherman Elementary School in McLean, Virginia, to launch a nationwide campaign to promote childhood vaccinations. The school was the first to administer the polio vaccine in 1954.

The White House is encouraging schools to hold community discussions and share fact sheets about the vaccines, and is working with the American Academy of Pediatrics to partner local doctors with schools willing to share scientific information about the injections.

“Parenting and worrying go hand in hand – it’s just what we do,” the first lady told parents. “So I can’t promise you that the dangers of the world will become any less terrifying. Just wait for your kids to drive. But with this vaccine, we can at least address one of those concerns. A big.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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