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Starting this weekend, Alameda County will be offering Pfizer to everyone ages 5 and up at its regular points of distribution. Credit: Brian Krans

As of Nov. 19, nearly 30,000 Alameda County children aged 5 to 11 years old have received at least their first doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine since it received emergency authorization for young kids on Nov. 2. 

That means more than 21% of Alameda County’s 140,000 children in that age group have been inoculated in the little over two weeks it’s been available to them, according to the county Public Health Department. At the same time, over 75% of kids aged 12 to 15 in Alameda County, and over 78% of 16 and 17 year olds, are fully vaccinated. In total, nearly 87% of all county residents 12 and older are fully vaccinated.

How 5 to 11 year old kids can get vaccinated

  • Two county-run locations will be giving out first doses of Pfizer’s pediatric shot from 10 a.m. to  2 p.m. on Saturdays: Allen Temple Baptist Church at 8501 International Blvd. and the Center-West Oakland at 2850 West St

While these early numbers are promising, health experts continue to encourage unvaccinated kids and adults to get their shots as soon as possible. COVID-19 cases are again on the rise across the United States and the Bay Area as people prepare to gather indoors for the holidays. 

“COVID is not done with us,” said Dr. Joanna Locke, Alameda County’s clinical guidance lead for COVID-19.

The FDA approved the pediatric Pfizer shot after an ongoing study involving 2,268 children showed that two 10 micrograms of the Pfizer vaccine provides “comparable” protection to the two 30 milligram doses given to people aged 16. It found that these doses are 90.7% effective in preventing COVID-19 in children five to 11 years old.

This week is the last to get the first dose of the vaccine and have full protection by Christmas. Those who get their shots by Saturday will receive their second one three weeks later and be fully immunized, including the two-week period after their second shot, before Dec. 25.

Parents and guardians experienced some initial hiccups not being able to sign up kids under 12 years old through the county vaccine site, but it is now working properly. People can also make appointments via myturn.ca.gov or vaccines.gov

Some, but not all, pop-up sites will have the pediatric vaccines as well. Starting this weekend, Alameda County will be offering Pfizer to everyone ages 5 and up at its regular points of distribution. These community sites are an effort to target those more likely to have been negatively impacted by the pandemic and haven’t received any vaccine doses yet. 

In Oakland, two county-run locations will be giving out first doses of Pfizer’s pediatric shot—along with the adult doses of Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson—from 10 a.m. to  2 p.m. on Saturdays: Allen Temple Baptist Church at 8501 International Blvd. and the Center-West Oakland at 2850 West St.

Health officials are also encouraging adults to get booster shots six months after their second Moderna or Pfizer dose, or two months after the single Johnson & Johnson shot. California recently opened up booster shots to any adult who wants one. The FDA made a similar recommendation universal for the entire nation on Friday.

“We’re encouraging anyone 18 and over to get their booster appointments working through their private providers and through the pharmacy chains,” said Donata Nilsen, Alameda County’s division director for the Office of COVID Mitigation and Prevention. 

Other places to find vaccine doses for young children include local pharmacies, pop-ups run by the Oakland Unified School District, and community health clinics like La Clínica de la Raza, Asian Health Services, and Native American Health

With 46,000 pediatric Pfizer doses on hand this week, health experts continue to spread the message that the vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective. 

In a webinar Tuesday evening with local pediatricians and officials from the Alameda County Public Health Department, parents asked a variety of questions, including about side effects. 

Nicholas Moss, Alameda County’s health officer, said side effects are normally mild, such as aches or fever for a short amount of time, and there’s no available evidence to suggest any long-term side effects from COVID-19 vaccines. However, research has indicated potential long-term effects of getting COVID-19 itself. 

“In general, when vaccines cause side effects, they are almost always within two months of administration,” Moss wrote in the Zoom chat. 

Several concerned parents brought up whether it would be better to let kids get COVID-19 and develop immunity that way instead of getting vaccinated. The problem with that, Moss said, is that some of those children will become severely ill, and they will pose the risk of passing it on to others. 

While most children infected with COVID-19 only have mild symptoms, hospitalizations and complications can happen, although it is rare and rarely serious. More than 8,300 kids aged 5 to 11 have been hospitalized with COVID-19 in the United States. The CDC reports hospitalizations are three times higher for Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Hispanic children compared to white children.

Still, the United States has seen 94 COVID-related deaths among children ages 5 to 11 as of mid-October, according to the CDC.

In addition, officials emphasize that vaccines help reduce the risk of children spreading the disease to others and minimize disruptions to schooling. 

Dr. Stephanie Chiang, a pediatrician with Sutter Health in Fremont, said her 9-year-old was recently vaccinated and encourages other parents not to wait. Many young children are coming into clinics excited about getting vaccinated so they don’t miss out on any more school or social interactions, she said, adding kids are suffering from higher rates of obesity, anxiety and depression by being away from their friends and classmates. 

“[Not being vaccinated] is really interfering with their ability to get back to normal,” Chiang said.
For more information on where to access a COVID-19 vaccine, see The Oaklandside’s updated vaccine guide.