Eleven-year-old Jocelyn Martines was one of about a dozen brave local kids who received their first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a makeshift clinic on Dec. 15.
“It’s now more important than ever that we need the vaccine, especially now with the high rise of the new variant,” said her mom, Isabel Sencion. “We just feel strongly about the vaccine, especially because it’s flu season right now as well, so we just want her to stay protected.”
The vaccine clinic, organized and facilitated by San Mateo County Health, Coastside Hope, Boys and Girls Club of the Coastside, the city of Half Moon Bay and the local school district, took place from 2 to 5 p.m. at Our Lady of the Pillar Church.
“It’s fantastic to finally be able to get kids vaccinated,” said Jill Jacobson, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of the Coastside. “I think it’s just a real relief for families, for the caregivers and the teachers in the schools, especially with these variants that keep coming.
“I think maybe some of us have forgotten how scary it was before there was a vaccine,” she said. “Now, almost everybody around has been vaccinated, but there’s this whole group that, until now, hasn’t been able to, so it’s really meaningful and powerful. I’m really happy for everybody.”
While 100 vaccines were available for kids ages 5 to 11, only a fraction were administered. Long lines wrapped around the church when a clinic for adults was held at the church in March. The lack of interest last week was surprising to some.
“We’re very happy to be able to do this, but we had the capacity to give 100 doses out today and we aren’t going to do that,” said Judith Guerrero, executive director of Coastside Hope. “I think it speaks to the uncertainty and hesitation of the parents. For those that came today and got it, we’re happy. We’re glad this service was offered here locally because I know it’s been a challenge trying to make it over to the Peninsula to get the vaccine.”
Jacobson attributes the low attendance, in part, to timing. The county didn’t announce it would have vaccine on the Coastside until the week prior to the event. She also suspects that families are busy with the upcoming holidays. The clinic began in the middle of the afternoon making it difficult for some kids to get there as schools in the district typically don’t get out until 3 p.m.
“Something I want to really pay attention to is the vaccination rates in 5- to 11-year-olds in Half Moon Bay because if the numbers are low, and there is a real need for another drive, we would absolutely do one,” said Jacobson.
If the county was to host another, Jacobson thinks more time to plan and raise awareness will help boost numbers.