San Mateo County health providers are ready to provide vaccinations for children six months through 4 years old, pending approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
An FDA committee is scheduled to meet this week to discuss whether to authorize vaccines for that age group.
If approved, Srija Srinivasan, deputy chief of San Mateo County Health, said Tuesday that vaccination for the six-month to 4-year-old age group could begin as soon as next week.
"It will be another milestone to have all residents eligible for vaccination as remaining up-to-date on vaccinations and boosters is the single most important action everyone can take to protect themselves and their loved ones," Srinivasan said during an informational update to the county's Board of Supervisors.
While the county does not plan to offer large-scale vaccination sites for children under 5 years old, it will support pediatric providers who will be vaccinating children. Srinivasan said that large health providers like Kaiser Permanente and Stanford Health Care confirmed they are ready to offer vaccinations to their members.
COVID-19 transmission continues to rise in San Mateo County, according to county health officials.
Marc Meulman, director of public health, policy and planning at San Mateo County Health, shared COVID-19 numbers that show increased cases and hospitalizations since late March.
As of Monday, the county's daily case rate, measured as a seven-day average, is at 64 cases per 100,000 people, a 20 percent increase from about two weeks ago.
There are 50 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the county, including five in the intensive care unit.
"These data points continue to paint a picture of the virus circulating at high levels," Meulman said.
He urged county residents to stay up to date on vaccinations, wear high-quality masks indoors, improve ventilation, isolate when sick and seek a COVID test if symptomatic.
Even with 89 percent of county residents 5 years and older fully vaccinated, emerging variants may cause cases to keep rising.
This is because some variants can evade vaccines, especially if initial vaccinations happened a while ago, according to Dr. Anand Chabra, medical director for family health services.
"That heightens the importance of the need for the boosters. Fortunately, they're still good protection against hospitalization and particularly the more severe outcomes like ICU admission and death," Chabra said.
He noted that while hospitalizations are up, there are not as many people in the ICU.
People who test positive and require COVID-19 treatment should consult with their primary care physician as a first step.
For those that do not have quick access to a doctor, the county's Test to Treat sites, which provide testing and medication at the same place, are a helpful option.
A map of Test to Treat sites is available online at https://covid-19-test-to-treat-locator-dhhs.hub.arcgis.com/.
A calendar of countywide vaccine clinics is available online at https://www.smchealth.org/vaccine-clinic-calendar.