Marin Co. prepares to vaccinate students ages 5-11 pending FDA approval

MARIN COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- The FDA has yet to authorize a COVID vaccine for children under 12, but the Marin County Office of Education is already saving dates for on-campus COVID vaccines for their youngest students.

"We're really excited," said Alfred Gaspari, who has two sons in the 5-11 year age group. "Proving that it's safe for kids, we'll be definitely on board with getting them vaccinated."

RELATED: Bay Area counties prepare to vaccinate kids 5-11 years old ahead of Pfizer's expected authorization

"I think it's fantastic, can't wait for it to happen," said San Rafael mom, Karen Winter. Her 11-year-old son, Ethan, is also ready to get the shot for a very specific reason.

"I really want to run cross country, but if you run cross country you either have to have a vaccine or get tested and that would kind of be a hassle."

The timeline for emergency use authorization of a COVID vaccine for 5-11 year olds has been a moving target all year. First there were dates over the summer, then September, and December. But, the latest information suggests that EUA for the Pfizer vaccine may come in October. But first, Pfizer needs to submit trial data for the 5-11 age group.

"Marin County has always tried to anticipate what's coming next," said Marin County Superintendent of Schools, Mary Jane Burke.

RELATED: COVID cases in kids reach alarming new heights, with a 240% increase since July, data shows

Burke says if the FDA authorizes Pfizer's vaccine in October, she has plans to start vaccine clinics on October 23 or October 30 at three Marin schools, including Miller Creek Middle. "Our hope is that we'll be able to have 75% of our 5-11 year olds, which is 21,000 here in Marin County, fully vaccinated prior to the winter recess."

"If you asked me a year ago, I probably would not be vaccinating my kids," said Dr. Lisa Santora, who knows better than most that a lot can change in a year. "Delta really was a game changer for our community and the globe."

Now Dr. Lisa Santora, who is Marin County's deputy health officer, plans to vaccinate her two young children as soon as possible.

"As a parent, I see the risk or harms of the vaccine being extremely low, mostly just discomfort, painful injection sites. And the benefits my children will gain by being vaccinated, if they are exposed to a COVID positive patient, they'll be able to stay in school."

Marin County officials do not anticipate mandating the vaccine for students at this time.

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