Ethnic Media Services
By Nadine Burke Harris, MD, MPH
Our state experienced the most devastating moment of the pandemic last winter. More than 21,000 Californians with COVID-19 in the last week of December, and we lost 18,518 mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers to this deadly virus in January. The light at the end of the tunnel seemed out of reach.
Today, we have the tools to help protect against another winter outbreak and prevent preventable hospitalizations and deaths: vaccines. More from 87 percent of Californians who meet the requirements have received at least one dose, and the última autorización The approval of Pfizer's vaccine by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for children ages 5 to 11 is a turning point. For the first time, entire families, from our young children to our grandparents, can be protected against COVID-19.
As California's first Surgeon General, I am committed to making the vaccine available to every eligible Californian. And as a mom of four, I take comfort in knowing that by having my children vaccinated, I am doing everything I can to keep them, our family and our community safe.
The number of infections is increasing, largely in unvaccinated people, who have 9.5 times more likely to be hospitalized and 18.2 times more likely of dying from COVID-19 than fully vaccinated people. People of color are most affected. We need all eligible Californians to get vaccinated or complete their vaccination series and receive the booster vaccine as soon as they are eligible to help end this pandemic.
As a pediatrician, I know how crucial vaccination is to protecting children against other preventable diseases such as measles, mumps and chickenpox. The COVID-19 vaccine, which is specially dosed for children ages 5 to 11, provides an essential layer of protection against this deadly virus.
More from 700,000 children and adolescents in California have been infected with COVID-19. There have been more than 6,500 pediatric hospitalizations in our state since July of last year, and we have lost 37 young lives since the beginning of the pandemic. Children can experience "prolonged COVID," and the virus can also cause Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), in which the overactive immune system attacks the child's body. Only in our state have we seen 660 of these casesHalf of them had to be hospitalized in intensive care units.
Vaccination not only helps prevent these alarming results, but also reduces the spread of the virus to loved ones, such as grandparents and others with more vulnerable immune systems.
And as the state's leader in working to train providers to identify and mitigate Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and childhood trauma, I know that the pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on our youth. They have struggled with social isolation, attending school virtually, as well as family stressors such as job loss, food instability or homelessness, COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and even the death of loved ones. Vaccination gives children a sense of security in knowing that they are better protected and that they are protecting others from infection as well.
Understandably, some parents are still concerned. I can assure them that the COVID-19 vaccine was shown to be safe and highly effective in extensive clinical trials in more than 4,500 children ages 5 to 11, and it meets the same rigorous standard of safety and effectiveness as all other vaccines in the US.
In fact, the COVID-19 vaccines have undergone the most intensive testing in the history of U.S. vaccination. Millions of young people between the ages of 12 and 18 have already received the vaccine with only mild side effects. Serious side effects are rare, and the benefits of vaccination have been shown to far outweigh the risks. There is no evidence, either in clinical trial data or among the millions of women who have already received the vaccine, that it causes any loss of fertility.
Instead, vaccination allows more of our state's population to safely return to the activities they love. Thanks to the safety measures in place, combined with high vaccination rates, our schools are safer than ever. Immunizations have allowed children ages 12 to 17 to rejoin their sports teams, drama clubs and other activities ? programs that provide enrichment and help them grow into healthy adults.
Our youngest children deserve the same opportunities. These brave little ones want to participate fully in life again. With holiday gatherings and festivities approaching, this vaccine could not have come at a better time.
Protect your family. Call your pediatrician or local health clinic to schedule an appointment for your child's immunization. You can also visit MyTurn.ca.gov or call 833-422-4255 to find an immunization site near you.
You may be interested in: California Health Secretary Calls for Continued Vaccinations for Children 5-11