COVID-19 vaccine appointments for Californians ages 12-15 could begin Thursday

COVID-19 vaccine appointments for Californians ages 12 to 15 could become available as soon as Thursday.

If everything goes to plan, California’s MyTurn vaccine appointment site will begin making appointments available on Thursday morning, state epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan said. The timing for when other vaccine providers will begin to offer appointments will vary.

The availability is expected to come after an advisory committee on immunization practices for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention meets Wednesday and issues recommendations. Later Wednesday night, a vaccine advisory group for California and other Western states will meet to issue its own recommendations.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday said the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is safe and effective for children ages 12 to 15.

California health officials urged parents to bring their children to get immunized, saying increasing vaccinations will protect children against a rare but serious and potentially deadly complication associated with COVID-19, Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) and also help keep children from becoming infected and passing along the contagious virus to other vulnerable people.

There have been 508 cases of MIS-C in California, including 186 in Los Angeles County. All 186 cases in L.A. County needed hospitalization, with about 2 of every 5 of those children needing care in an intensive care unit. Two children in L.A. County have died from the inflammatory syndrome.

“COVID remains an important threat to younger Californians,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s health and human services secretary and a pediatrician. Although younger people are less likely to get severely ill from COVID-19 compared to older adults, “across the globe, young people — even those without underlying conditions — experience severe disease and even having cases where young people have died.”

Los Angeles County officials said they may want to continue using their four mass vaccination sites to inoculate youths 12 to 15 now that the Pfizer vaccine is authorized for that group.

Those under 18 will need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian to receive the vaccine.

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