Kids as young as 12 years old can now get COVID-19 vaccines throughout San Mateo County after federal and state medical advisers gave the green light this week.
Following Food and Drug Administration emergency approval early this week, the Western States Safety Review Group approved the Pfizer vaccine for those 12 and up on Wednesday night, paving the way for California to open up all sites to the newly eligible residents. San Mateo County followed suit, and sites across the county, including at the San Mateo County Event Center and the Pacelli Event Center in Daly City, began administering vaccines to kids Thursday morning.
Local pharmacies also opened up their sites to young residents on Thursday, with CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid now accepting walk-ins for anyone 12 and older to receive the Pfizer vaccine. A Sutter Health spokesperson confirmed Thursday afternoon it is also now widening Pfizer vaccine eligibility to its youngest patients and Kaiser Permanente has also now expanded eligibility. A schedule of local sites is now available online at www.smchealth.org and on various pharmacy websites. Appointments can be made on the state’s MyTurn website but are not required at county and pharmacy locations.
To get the vaccine, kids under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, or must bring a signed consent form available on the county’s website. According to County Manager Mike Callagy, 40,000 additional kids in the county are now eligible for shots.
At the Half Moon Bay CVS on Thursday, the first day the pharmacy allowed vaccines for the new group, a line of parents and kids awaited their first shot.
Twelve-year-old Tom Maher said it wasn’t a question whether he would get the vaccine as soon as he could. He has plans to travel to Japan to see family, and wanted to make sure he is safe. To him, the whole process was a breeze.
“It didn’t hurt at all,” Maher said.
Eighth-grader Paige Haberman said she wanted the shot to keep her friends and family safe, and so that she can keep playing basketball at Cunha Intermediate School. She said being back at school in-person, which she prefers over remote learning, was a factor in her decision.
“I decided to get it because I didn’t want to spread (COVID-19) to anyone,” Haberman said. “And so that things can get back to normal.”
The county is now reporting a surplus of vaccines available at county-run and pharmacy sites. Each of the three vaccines approved by the FDA for emergency use are free and available regardless of immigration status or health insurance coverage. Callagy said that for residents who have been waiting to get a shot until vaccines are widely available and nearby, that time has come.
“There is no reason to wait,” Callagy siad. “This is the time to get vaccinated.”