Los Angeles County health officials may begin offering COVID-19 vaccines to children as young as 6 months of age as early as Tuesday, June 21, after federal officials approved vaccinations for children under 5 years of age.
A panel of consultants from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unanimously approved COVID-19 vaccination for children aged 6 months and older on Saturday. CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed the decision later that day.
The approval covers vaccines manufactured by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech.
In the meantime, the county confirmed more than 12,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, June 20 starting Saturday, as well as 11 more deaths.
The Department of Public Health announced 4344 cases on Saturday, 4217 on Sunday and 3566 on Monday. The numbers are likely low due to delays in reporting due to the weekend.
The county no longer releases COVID data on weekends.
There were six virus-related deaths on Saturday, three on Sunday and two on Monday, according to the agency.
Figures released on Monday gave the county a total of 3,069,037 COVID cases for the entire pandemic, bringing the total death toll from the virus to 32,261.
The county expects to roll out the new wave of vaccines as early as Tuesday.
“We have been preparing for this moment,” President Joe Biden tweeted. “Our administration has already secured vaccine doses for the youngest Americans and is now embarking on a comprehensive effort with states, local health departments, US pediatricians, family physicians and other organizations to help guns get vaccinated.”
County health officials noted that younger children are at lower risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from COVID, but they said the risk is higher among unvaccinated children. They also state that unvaccinated children are at higher risk of developing multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C.
Over the past three months, unvaccinated children aged 12-17 are nearly four times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID than vaccinated children, according to the District. Of eligible children in the county who contracted confirmed cases of MIS-C, 65% were not vaccinated, officials said.
“As we’ve seen with adults, children can experience short and long-term health problems due to COVID-19,” County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “Vaccination is a proven safety measure that protects your entire family, now including your youngest children, from serious illness and death from COVID. The development and approval of vaccines for children under 5 years of age has gone through a rigorous evaluation and approval process, like all other routine childhood vaccines.
“As we plan to get our families together and enjoy the summer and upcoming holidays, now is the time to make sure all of our children are fully vaccinated. Vaccinated children and adults add a much needed level of protection to the entire community, especially as new highly infectious variants proliferate.”
Meanwhile, the number of COVID-positive patients in county hospitals rose by another 27 to 639, according to the latest government data released on Saturday. Of those patients, 67 were in intensive care, compared to 69 on Friday.
On Friday, the county reported another 5,122 cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases for the entire pandemic to 3,057,004. Five more virus-related deaths were also recorded, bringing the total death toll to 32,250.
The average daily rate of people who test positive for the virus rose again, reaching 9.3%. Ferrer said the percentage is likely to rise as daily testing decreases due to schools not attending classes.
The county does not report COVID data on weekends.