SACRAMENTO– California parents and legal guardians can schedule appointments for young people in their families aged 12+ to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine using the statewide booking system starting Thursday morning.
“The more Californians who are able to get vaccinated, the better we can protect our communities and slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “Our efforts to protect the health and wellbeing of Californians are paying off, as we’re now leading the country with over 32 million vaccines administered and some of the lowest positivity rates in the entire country. Having vaccines expanded to teenagers is the next step in California’s path to safely reopening next month.”
This expanded eligibility comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) vaccine safety review panel and the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup recommended on Wednesday that the vaccine is safe and effective in protecting this age group against severe illness, hospitalization, and death. On May 10, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) amended the Pfizer vaccine’s Emergency Use Authorization to allow administration for 12- to 15-year-olds, following clinical trials that proved it safe for this age group with only non-serious side effects like fatigue and headache.
“Protection from COVID-19 is available for so many Californians already and now our 12- to 15-year-olds can join others in getting vaccinated,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. “Young people have shouldered a significant burden during this pandemic. We look forward to now providing protection for this group to return to activities, especially as we look forward to the state fully reopening on June 15.”
About 2.1 million Californians are in this next eligible age group. California’s vaccine provider network has the capacity to administer about 6.6 million doses a week overall, including 2.5 million doses through providers who service this younger population. That is in addition to the doses available at local pharmacies, Federally Qualified Health Centers, and other providers who receive allocations from the federal government.
“California is ready to safely deliver vaccines to young people aged 12 and up. We have streamlined the enrollment process to include more clinics and providers that can administer vaccines to this next age group where they can also catch up on other vaccines that may have been missed over the course of this pandemic,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan. “It’s important to remember that young people need protection against the severity and ongoing threat of COVID-19. California has had more than 500 cases of serious health outcomes among young people resulting from this virus, and cases are increasing among younger Americans and Californians who have not yet had the opportunity to be vaccinated. I am grateful to be able to protect my own teenagers now.”
The Pfizer vaccine is administered in two doses taken three weeks (21 days) apart. It has already been safely administered to millions of California adults, including more than 30 percent of 16- and 17-year-olds.
Pfizer was the first vaccine manufacturer to submit clinical trial data on the 12-15 age group to the FDA for authorization. Moderna is expected to submit trial data for the same authorization in the coming months. Johnson & Johnson is currently conducting clinical trials for the 12-17 age group.
Clinical trials and approvals of vaccines commonly begin with older, more vulnerable populations and then extend to younger ages. Pfizer and Moderna have ongoing clinical trials in people younger than 12. Depending on the outcome of those trials, authorization for this next age group could happen later this year.
Parents, legal guardians or emancipated young people can check vaccine availability and book an appointment at MyTurn.ca.gov or by calling California’s COVID-19 Hotline at 1-833-422-4255. They can also contact their family doctor, local community health clinic or public health office for more information.