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Kern County, California medical officials react to COVID vaccines being approved for children under 5

COVID Vaccines for Children Under 5 (FILE)
Posted at 7:50 PM, Jun 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-20 23:43:26-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — It's time for young children to roll up their sleeves as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has now approved COVID-19 vaccines for kids under 5.

The approval allows for nearly 20 million additional children to be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. And health officials say this step is so important because COVID is here to stay.

“I think one of the things we now know is that COVID is never going away and so it's just like the flu, it's never going away, it's going to keep coming back," explained Dr. Hemmal Kothary, the chief medical officer at Mercy Hospitals. "And I think just like we do vaccinate ourselves with the flu virus, we will vaccinate ourselves and protect ourselves with this virus as well.”

Protecting our most vulnerable population is something we’ve heard since the beginning of the pandemic but now the time has come to protect our youngest citizens. CDC officials signed off on vaccinations for children under five on Saturday.

“Now that we have vaccines approved for the youngest Californians those over the age of six months this means that the whole family essentially can be vaccinated," says Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of California Health and Human Services. "That means protection against the short-term and long-term consequences of COVID.”

Dr. Kothary says this approval took a while because extra evaluations go into testing for kids.

“You always want to make sure that the young folk, that we make sure that these vaccines are tested and that over time make sure that there’s no major side effects before we give it to these kids under the age of 5.”

Dr. Ghaly says now parents can feel more comfortable when sending their young children out in the community.

“That means an opportunity to take that summer vacation, send your kid off to summer camp, send them to a birthday, party get ready for school. Things that I know many of us have done with a bit of trepidation over the last couple of years.”

And if parents are still hesitant to get their toddlers and infants vaccinated Dr. Kothary says to speak with your doctor.

“Obviously the best thing is to always ask your physician or your pediatrician whether your child is qualified or how to go about getting it as well because they will be able to guide you better.”

But as COVID cases rise once again it's also affecting health care workers. That’s why Dr. Kothary says get vaccinated as soon as possible no matter your age group.

“This virus is rampant again, we are seeing a surge right now, what its doing is it’s not putting a lot of people in the hospital, but what it's doing is it's making a lot of people sick, and getting our staff out of the hospital and we are starting to see a staff shortage as well. Get vaccinated so that you are not spreading this stuff to essential healthcare workers that we typically need all the time and we really need at times like this.”

Kern County Public Health says the vaccines will be arriving in Kern County throughout the week to providers that have placed orders. And on Monday, June 27th they will update the Kern Public Health website to show where the vaccines for children under five will be available.

As of right now, the Boys and Girls Club COVID-19 vaccination clinics with the Bakersfield College nurses will not include children under 5 because it’s not in their policy at this time.