With the first day of school rapidly approaching and Covid-19 circulating at a high rate, health officials are urging parents to get their youngest vaccinated against the virus.
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authorized vaccinations for children ages 6 months to 5 years old, marking the final age group that has been approved to get the shot.
Dr. Jennifer Tong, associate chief medical officer for Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, said that after the initial surge of vaccinations in this age group shortly after they were authorized in late June, the numbers are starting to decrease.
There are roughly 100,000 children younger than 5 years living in Santa Clara County. To date, just under 7,000 doses have been administered.
The Pfizer vaccine for children under 5 years requires three doses, with the second dose given three to eight weeks after the first, while the third is given at least eight weeks after the second dose. The Moderna vaccine for children requires two doses, given four to eight weeks apart.
Tong stressed the importance of getting the vaccine as soon as possible, given the time it takes to complete the weeks-long series.
“Some parents are waiting to see how it’s going,” she said. “We want to reassure them it’s gone perfectly well.”
Families can make appointments for vaccinations for this age group through sccfreevax.org. Links are provided for county sites, as well as healthcare providers and pharmacies.
In South County, the county operates a vaccination site in San Martin at 80 Highland Ave., with plenty of capacity, Tong noted.
The site also has a child-friendly vibe that is intended to help children feel more comfortable when they visit, she said, allowing them to choose a sticker and toy and watch TV during their 15-minute observation period post-vaccination.
The BA.5 subvariant of Covid-19, thought to be more easily transmissible than prior strains, is now considered the dominant strain in the United States.
The quantity of SARS-CoV-2 genes in South County wastewater, the virus that causes Covid-19, is approaching the record-setting levels experienced during the winter Omicron surge, according to samples taken from the South County Regional Wastewater Authority, which serves a population of 110,338.
Covid-19-related hospitalizations in the county are increasing at a steady rate, at 243 people as of July 15, but those numbers remain at half of what the county experienced during the winter surge.
Getting vaccinated, masking in indoor spaces, gathering outside as much as possible, and frequent handwashing remain the most effective tools in battling Covid-19, Tong said.
To make a vaccination appointment, visit sccfreevax.org.