San Mateo County could begin vaccinating 12- to 15-year-olds at the San Mateo County Event Center next week, pending final approval from the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday gave authorization for the Pfizer vaccine to be used for 12- to 15-year-olds.
County Manager Mike Callagy said during a media briefing Wednesday that there are about 40,000 children in San Mateo County in that age group.
"We are poised to immediately start accepting those 12 to 15. We are also poised to have mass vaccination clinics next week Tuesday and Wednesday at the Event Center to handle the increased volume," Callagy said.
Vaccinations are available at the San Mateo County Event Center, 1346 Saratoga Drive, San Mateo, this week and next. People can schedule an appointment through the state's MyTurn.ca.gov system or people can drive up and register on-site.
Parental consent will be built into the MyTurn system when vaccinations open up to 12- to 15-year-olds, deputy chief of San Mateo County Health Srija Srinivasan said.
The county also plans to work with school districts and San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools Nancy Magee to get eligible teenagers vaccinated.
Srinivasan said that there are already two regular vaccination clinics on school campuses: one at Cesar Chavez Ravenswood Middle School in East Palo Alto and one at San Mateo High School in San Mateo.
"We want to keep learning as to what are the best ways to reach young people and their families. We hope the 12 to 15 youngsters and the 16- and 17-year-olds can also help promote vaccines to other family members and are looking forward to reaching even more people as we have more eligible," Srinivasan said.
As of Tuesday, 77% of county residents 16 and older have received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine so far. In the county's hardest-hit communities, 64% have received the vaccine.
Vaccinations are widely available in the county. In addition to the Event Center mass vaccination site, people can also get vaccinated at community clinics in East Palo Alto, Daly City, Menlo Park, North Fair Oaks and Half Moon Bay.
"We have a surplus of vaccine for the first time," Callagy said. "So we're encouraging everyone. There is no waiting. This is the time to get vaccinated."
Moreover, the county will have even more targeted vaccination sites for at-risk communities identified through health data. These targeted vaccinations may take place at places of worship, apartment complexes or employment centers, Callagy said.
Srinivasan also acknowledged that the pace of the vaccinations is not as steep as it was before, when the supply was more limited. Srinivasan said that people may face barriers to vaccination, such as not having flexibility in their schedules.
"There are other barriers that have to be removed to make it easy enough to get vaccinated and I think that is the period we are in," Srinivasan said. "There also are people who have questions that haven't been answered, who are waiting to see how things play out for a family member or (are) getting more advice from their doctor."
Srinivasan said the county expects it will take longer to reach the remaining residents who have not been vaccinated yet.
As of Tuesday, San Mateo County has seen 41,864 COVID-19 cases and 568 COVID-19 deaths, with no deaths reported in the last two weeks.
A list of vaccination clinics in San Mateo County is available at smchealth.org.