San Francisco, California – Pfizer is hoping to get authorization of the Food and Drug Administration before Halloween to begin with vaccination of children aged 5-11.
Health officials around the Bay Area are beginning to plan how the vaccine will be distributed if it is approved for emergency use.
“I’m nervous and a little sad,” said Gregorio Ramirez, who lives in San Francisco’s Mission District.
Ramirez is a delivery truck driver and constantly worries he will put his 5-year-old son at risk.
“I got to go to work every day talking to different people and some aren’t vaccinated,” he said.
Susan Rojas works with San Francisco’s COVID-19 taskforce. Her staff is already preparing to expand the Mission’s 24th Street pop-up site to be able to vaccinate up to 500 children per day once Pfizer’s vaccine is authorized.
“We have a lot of families coming in trying to figure out if they can put their names on a waitlist,” she said.
Pfizer is expected to submit data for FDA review by late September. UCSF’s Dr. Peter Chin-Hong predicts a decision on the EUA will happen before Halloween, but added we should be prepared for delays.
“Because I think there’s a lot of pressure to divert resources within the FDA right now to ensure they really have all hands on deck,” Chin-Hong said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics reports there’s been a 240% increase in COVID cases among children since early July.
“Luckily not so much in the Bay Area,” said Chin-Hong. “But, nevertheless, getting an infection would still lead to a very small proportion of children getting chronic symptoms, which is an issue.”
Health departments in all nine Bay Area counties are expanding vaccination clinics and working with pediatric offices to accommodate the heightened demand expected next month.
The city’s COVID-19 Latino Taskforce is expecting additional resources to staff the Mission and Bayview vaccination sites once the vaccine is authorized. Rojas says the Mission’s 24th Street site is hosting a youth vaccination and testing event every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. for teens ages 12 to 17.