For Immediate ReleaseMay 07, 2021
Distribution teams readied in anticipation of vaccine authorization
San Rafael, CA – Marin County Public Health is preparing to hit the ground running and launch a COVID-19 vaccine outreach effort for youths aged 12-15 once a vaccine is authorized for use for that age group.
Public health departments across the U.S. are anticipating a decision from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as early as Wednesday, May 12, making Pfizer the first vaccine available for adolescents. Once the FDA grants emergency use authorization, the Western States Scientific Advisory Group will convene to render an independent recommendation to authorize use in California.
There are approximately 14,000 Marin County residents aged 12 to 15. Public Health has set a goal to vaccinate at least half of the group within a week of receiving authorization.
“Vaccinating our adolescents is a high priority and will be critical to our pandemic progress,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin’s Public Health Officer. “Having entire middle and high schools protected with vaccine, in both staff and students, will be a game-changer. We’ve shown we can make schools safe with rigorous safety protocols, but wide vaccine uptake gives us a lot more freedom and confidence in restoring some normalcy in kids’ lives.”
While children tend to experience less severe COVID-19 symptoms than adults, the increasing prevalence of variants of concern is driving the vaccination push. Nationally, as new COVID-19 virus variants spread, younger people are making up an increasing fraction of cases and hospitalizations. In California, cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C) are on the rise among children who have been diagnosed with, or been exposed to someone with, COVID-19. Preventing infection also protects adolescents from developing the long-term symptoms of COVID-19, or “long COVID,” which can last indefinitely after the infection resolves.
“As a pediatrician, I'm looking forward to the time when all of my patients are protected against COVID-19 by being fully vaccinated,” said Dr. Nelson Branco of Tamalpais Pediatrics. “The kids I talk to are eager to get vaccinated so that they can protect themselves and their families – especially grandparents – and they are eager to safely go back to all their favorite places and activities.”
Marin’s strategy includes leveraging mass vaccination sites that offer evening and weekend hours for newly eligible youths and their families and sending mobile vaccination units to selected schools. Public Health anticipates having 10,000 Pfizer doses available across the county to meet the demand among newly eligible youths.
Parents and guardians will find appointments in several locations countywide. The ferry terminal parking lot in Larkspur will open 6,000 appointments dedicated to Marin families throughout the week following state authorization, which is anticipated Thursday, May 13.
In addition, Public Health has partnered with Safeway to offer up to 1,000 vaccinations at Miller Creek School in Marinwood on May 15 and 22.
Thousands more doses will be administered through mobile vaccination units, traveling to select public schools in low-income communities to vaccinate students and unvaccinated parents.
Public Health hopes to repeat the success of its drive to vaccinate teens 16 and older, a group that became eligible for vaccination just three weeks ago. Approximately 80% of Marin youths aged 16-18 have received at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, the only vaccine authorized for people under the age of 18.
Widening eligibility is another critical step in helping Marin achieve community immunity. Only 48% of Marin’s population is considered “fully immunized” – two weeks past their second/final COVID-19 shot – leaving more than half of the population susceptible to COVID-19 infection. An average of 10 new COVID-19 cases are diagnosed in Marin every day, a rate that prevented the county from achieving Tier 4 or “yellow” status in the Blueprint for a Safer Economy.
“Vaccination is our ticket to moving forward,” Willis said. “Though 84% of our residents have received at least one dose, we still remain vulnerable to outbreaks. It will be months before anyone under age 12 will be able to get vaccinated, so the rest of us need to do our part to help us achieve sufficient immunity in our community.”
On Tuesday, May 11, the Marin County Office of Education (MCOE) will host an online town hall to discuss vaccine safety and public health’s plan to vaccinate 12-15 year olds in Marin. The virtual event will feature Willis, Deputy Health Officer Dr. Lisa Santora, and Dr. Shilpa Marawah, Chief of Infectious Diseases from Kaiser Permanente San Rafael Medical Center. The event will begin at 6 p.m. and can be viewed live on MCOE’s Facebook page.
Information the COVID-19 vaccine and vaccination locations in Marin County can be found at GetVaccinatedMarin.org.
Laine HendricksPublic Information OfficerCounty Administrator's Office
3501 Civic Center DriveSuite #325San Rafael, CA 94903(415) 473-7496Email: Laine HendricksCounty Administrator website