Orange County reports strong interest among parents seeking to vaccinate their young children against COVID-19.
Since vaccinations became eligible for 5- to 11-year-olds last week, 7,788 doses have been administered, said Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, a deputy health officer for Orange County, Wednesday. Three thousand doses were administered on Tuesday alone, what Chinsio-Kwong called “a large number.”
Those “numbers reflect very healthy demand in our community for vaccine,” she said, especially considering it’s a weekday. Demand is expected to pick up over the weekend.
“I’m sure we’ll see a lot more kids vaccinated this weekend,” Chinsio-Kwong said.
Jeff Ziens, the coordinator of President Biden’s COVID-19 task force, said an estimated 900,000 children in this age group will have received their first national injection by the end of Wednesday. 700,000 extra appointments for children have already been booked. There are 28 million American children in this age group.
“Parents and families across the country are breathing a sigh of relief. And we’re just getting started,” Zients says.
And as of Wednesday morning in California, more than 110,000 children ages 5 to 11 had received their first vaccine dose, according to Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s health and human services secretary.
While that’s only a small fraction of the 3.5 million kids this age statewide, Ghaly said “we’re starting to see this increase, and I’m really encouraged about what this means for our state.”
“Vaccines are our way through this pandemic,” he said at a briefing. “We are concerned about the winter. We are concerned about the rising number of cases, the pressure on our hospitals from a number of other issues on top of COVID, so do what you can today to get your vaccine. Protect yourself in the winter.”
Chinsio-Kwong urged people to get their children vaccinated. While some have suggested they wouldn’t, in part because the risk of death is relatively low compared to the risk for adults, COVID-19 is still one of the leading causes of death in children in this age group nationally.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, during the 12-month period ending Oct. 2, 66 children aged 5 to 11 died from COVID-19, a number that — compared to the leading causes of death in children in 2019 — makes up the coronavirus. the eighth leading cause of death in children of this age group.
“I don’t think it’s acceptable to have COVID if [among the] top 10 causes of death in the pediatric population,” said Chinsio-Kwong. “I think we need to better protect them. And now that we have this vaccine, this is a great opportunity for us to provide a more effective measure that can protect them from serious illness and death.”
And for parents who don’t consider it likely that their children would die even if they contract COVID-19, Chinsio-Kwong asked them to think about the long-term consequences survivors could face.
“Maybe they don’t have serious illness, but how will a COVID infection affect them long-term as they mature?” said Chinsio-Kwong. “There are studies showing that a COVID infection – even if you are asymptomatic or have mild illness – can cause such significant inflammation and can and may affect your brain. And again, children are so young and their brains are still developing. The last thing we want is for them to have to sit back at such a young age when their brains are being affected.”
Side effects of surviving COVID-19 include mood swings, chronic headaches and a “foggy mind,” she said. The last thing a parent would want, she said, would be for a child to suffer lasting consequences, such as memory loss.
In addition, this “pediatric population” makes up more than 10% of our population. Getting them vaccinated can really get the rest of our population closer to full immunity. And we know that if they get vaccinated, they can also stay safe while they’re at school and having little gatherings with their friends,” she said.
The health officer took her newly eligible young son to get vaccinated last weekend.
“And I know he was really afraid… of the needle because he asked so many questions. And then, of course, he said, “Mommy, it didn’t hurt as much as my flu shot. I barely felt it,” said Chinsio-Kwong.