As of Nov. 4, Berkeley Unified School District, or BUSD, anticipates opening three COVID-19 vaccination clinics in response to the Food and Drug Administration’s authorization of a modified Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.
BUSD will partner with Carbon Health and the city of Berkeley to ensure the availability of the vaccine for younger populations in the Bay Area.
“The district is working to make these clinics available to students most in need,” said BUSD spokesperson Trish McDermott.
According to McDermott, the initiative targets students with “access challenges” to medical services, such as vaccinations. She described the project as critical to maintaining in-person instruction and eventually returning schools to pre-pandemic conditions.
The city of Berkeley hosted a festive vaccination event at Malcolm X Elementary School on Nov. 6, featuring bubbles, stickers, snacks and music. McDermott described a positive turnout of 20 volunteers vaccinating more than 200 children ages 5 to 11.
Future vaccination efforts will be held at Rosa Parks Elementary School on Nov. 13 and Sylvia Mendez Elementary School on Nov. 20, McDermott noted.
According to California Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs Director Sarah Bedy, California Boys and Girls Clubs have also provided vaccine education and clinics throughout the pandemic and aim to continue with the introduction of a younger audience.
“We are excited that through this partnership, California Boys and Girls Clubs will be able to further enhance our education and advocacy efforts, with the hopes of providing easy access to vaccines to hundreds of thousands of children and their families over the next four months,” Bedy said.
A city of Berkeley press release recommends making an appointment through pediatricians, My Turn or local pharmacies to ensure the availability of the child-specific dose on-site. Additionally, it noted that medical care providers may supply vaccination services to nonmembers, although a time lag for registration exists.
The federal government will keep supplying doses of the vaccine until the demand is met, the press release added.
“If you don’t get an appointment right away, don’t worry,” the press release stated. “Every child who is at least 5-years-old will get the shots they need.”
According to the press release, the vaccine is one-third the quantity of a regular dose and is 91% effective.
The city of Berkeley press release encourages younger children to get vaccinated, although their risk of severe illness due to COVID-19 is lower than adults. Effects of COVID-19 infection among children include sickness, short- and long-term health complications and serving as a carrier of the virus.
The University of California also promotes the vaccination of individuals ages 5 to 11.
“In support of the CDC’s recommendation, UCH locations expect to have pediatric doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine available early next week,” the University of California Health press release stated Nov. 4.