About 29% Of San Diegans Ages 16, 17 Are Now Partially Vaccinated
Vaccinations are open for those 16 and over, but shots for minors have been slow going in San Diego County and officials are working to change that.
"We have to do some targeted campaigns to parents and to teens so they realize how important it is to get vaccinated," said Rady Children's Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gail Knight. Knight also chairs the county's vaccination advisory group.
"The reality is if (teens) don't get vaccinated we’re not going to be able to fully open up and get back to normal life," Knight said.
According to a county spokesperson, through May 1, about 29% of 16- and 17-year-old county residents have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, translating to 22,572 teens.
"We want to engage the schools to do that [vaccination events] because we know we’re going to have to be out in the community to get the population of kids vaccinated," Knight said.
Last week, the first vaccination event targeting high-school students was held at Sweetwater High in National City. For those under 18, only the Pfizer vaccine is currently approved, but Knight says they have plenty of supply.
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While appointments are encouraged, Rady Children’s hospital and 20 other county sites are taking walk-ins. Parental permission is required for minors to get shots. And the main question doctors are hearing is, 'are the vaccines safe for my kid?'
"Absolutely," Knight said, "16-plus were included in the early trials, we have data and information."
Even though young people infected with the virus tend to have minor symptoms, there have been some coronavirus related deaths.
"We don't have all the information long-term about what happens with kids with COVID so we do not want to take it for granted that kids are going to be OK," Knight said. "We know they get sick and we have a vaccine."
Knight said in the coming weeks we could see federal regulators approve vaccinations for kids ages 12 to 15. She said getting minors vaccinated will be crucial in reaching herd immunity and protecting those most at risk.
"Your older friends, your relatives your teachers, all of the people that you think about that are older they don't have to be 80, even 40 or 50," she said.
In most cases parents will have to be with kids during vaccinations. Teens are monitored for a little longer than adults, about 30 minutes after shots to watch out for symptoms.