SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- After the CDC gave its final endorsement of Pfizer's pediatric COVID vaccine Tuesday, it was up to The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup to give one last greenlight. And on Wednesday, Governor Newsom's office said the group unanimously concluded the vaccine is safe and effective for 5 to 11 year olds, which means California kids are off to the vaccine clinic.
Santa Clara County rolled out some of the first pediatric COVID vaccines in the Bay Area at the County Fairgrounds Wednesday. The county estimated it would vaccinate 2,000 five to 11 year olds on Wednesday.
"I'm five," exclaimed Rose Soto, who held onto her big brother's hand while she got her first dose.
"It was great," she said after her shot.
"Our sites have been preparing for weeks knowing this time was coming," said Dr. Jennifer Tong, who helps run the fairground vaccine clinic. "We've onboarded staff and trained them about the difference in dosages."
COVID vaccinations for children 5-11 get underway in the South Bay
Parents with kids in the youngest COVID vaccine eligible age group yet, lined up for a pediatric Pfizer shot, which is one third the dose of the adult vaccine.
"While they're waiting in line, they're shielded a bit to try and decrease anxiety among the younger age group," said Tong who said they've put out kid-friendly activities and decorations. "For those who are particularly anxious, our nurses are trained to help the families know how to give them a big bear hug, to hold them in place and get it over with as quickly as possible. So far so good!"
A vaccine clinic at Emmanuel Baptist Church in San Jose started giving the shots at 9a.m. on Wednesday.
"We actually just got the doses delivered yesterday afternoon and more this morning. It's all happening really fast," said Ian Quiambao, the Clinical Leader at the church clinic.
He said nurses went through a week of training to prepare for the younger patients.
"The doses for the kids are completely different from adults. The preparation for the vaccine and the injection are completely different," Quiambao said.
The team at the church created a kid's only section for the shots and decorated it with pictures of animals to try and make it welcoming for the children.
But the first families in line did not need any special treatment or convincing.
"We've been waiting for this for almost two years now. They are in independent study. This is an exciting day for us," Adam King said. He has not allowed seven-year-old Emily or six-year-old Adam to go to school because of the pandemic.
"Once they are vaccinated, they will start school in January. They will stay home for the holidays then go back to school in January and I can be free," he said, laughing.
He may be excited about school, but the kids have even bigger plans.
"They want to go to Chuck E. Cheese and Disneyland after they are fully vaccinated," King said.
Kathy Tran also had no problem convincing her nine-year-old, Abigail, to get the shot.
"She is so excited. Usually with like flu shots she is so scared. But today, she said I am so excited, let's do this! They are excited for their sleepovers at each other's houses," she said about Abigail and her friends.
"Now parents can take a collective sigh of relief and say that they are able to provide that same protective factor to their children in this age group," said Dr. Keedra McNeill, a pediatrician with Kaiser in Napa and Solano Counties.
Dr. McNeill is also a mom, who's now looking forward to getting her 6 and 8 year old daughters vaccinated. "I would not advocate or recommend something for my own patients or for anyone else's patients that I would not do myself as a mother."
Kaiser Northern California participated in the 5 to 11 year old vaccine trials. Now they plan to open up pediatric vaccine appointments Thursday and get shots in little arms by Monday, November 8.
Marin County Health officer, Dr. Matt Willis, said he plans to take his 11-year-old son to a vaccine clinic this weekend at Miller Creek Middle School in San Rafael. He hopes to have 15,000 or 75% of Marin's 5 to 11 year olds vaccinated in the next month.
Health officials say you need to make an appointment before showing up at one of the county vaccine clinics. More appointments will open up around the Bay Area later in the week as more doses of the vaccine arrive.
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