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Sunday, August 1, 2021

The City of Davis announces Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is clear to be administered to children ages 12 and up

The California Department of Public Health and the federal government have approved the administration of the Pfizer vaccine to kids ages 12-15

UC Davis has expanded its efforts in combating the novel COVID-19 virus by administering the first two doses of the Pfizer vaccine to a new age group. As of May 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine for ages 12-15. Clinical trials have proven 100% efficacy against SARS-CoV-2 and a “robust” antibody response. Phase 3 of testing adolescents from ages 12-15 included 2,260 participants who demonstrated strong immunity after receiving both doses. 

    UC Davis Health has taken its own steps in protecting the Davis community and this developing at-risk age group. Children account for roughly 20% of COVID-19 cases in the U.S.; this is roughly three million adolescents, and the number continues to increase. Officials recommend that children get vaccinated as soon as they are able to protect themselves and others from severe reactions.

    Dr. Dean Blumberg, a professor and the chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UC Davis Children’s Hospital, provided his insight on the recent announcement of vaccinations being administered to children ages 12-15. Blumberg assists in setting policies related to COVID-19 treatment, prevention of infection and clinical vaccine trials of this age group for UC Davis.

    “As long as children are not vaccinated, they are still vulnerable to infection,” Blumberg said. “We are seeing an increasing number of young people get infected because they are susceptible. Thousands of children have been hospitalized in the U.S. due to [COVID-19] and have died. I think every time the age decreases for receiving the vaccine, it is a positive thing, as long as the vaccine is proven to be safe and effective among this age group.” 

    UC Davis Health has partnered with and is currently working on Novax’s adult trials in hopes of extending this new vaccine to adolescents in the local community. Blumberg and his colleagues have been monitoring clinical trials of this vaccine in the new age group in an effort to have more vaccinations readily available and promote COVID-19 prevention among adolescents.

UC Davis campus officials have implemented a variety of strategies to minimize the spread of COVID-19, including establishing testing and vaccination protocols. Campus partners have launched multiple projects since the start of the pandemic to reduce the risk of infection and keep the community safe. Some of these efforts include COVID-19 testing kiosks on campus which are readily available for students and community members, vaccine clinics, a contact tracing investigative team and quarantine housing. Many workers in the frontline of these on-campus services stress the importance of getting vaccinated and the need for more vaccines to be made available, especially for those of younger age groups. 

    Cindy Schorzman, the medical director for Student Health and Counseling Services, leads the coordination and implementation of infrastructure to support COVID-19 prevention efforts. Schorzman hopes to address health equity considerations in the City of Davis and believes vaccination against COVID-19 is one way to do just that.

“COVID-19 vaccination is the primary mechanism through which we are starting to be able to return to more normal activities,” Schorzman said. “It is very important for those who are able to get vaccinated to do so. COVID-19 vaccines significantly reduce the probability of contracting the virus. They are also likely to help keep you from getting seriously ill, even if you do get the virus. Getting vaccinated also may protect people around you, particularly those at greater risk for severe illness from COVID-19.​” 

Vaccination efforts have been implemented in many of Davis’ neighboring communities as well, contributing to the decline of COVID-19 cases over the past few weeks in Yolo County. Vaccination clinics in Sacramento have also seen the effects vaccination has on contracting COVID-19.

Rhina Kaur, a COVID-19 vaccine and testing assistant at Sacramento Native American Health Center, works to promote preventative measures and frequent testing for the safety of her community. 

“I believe it is important to get COVID-19 vaccines, as their efficacy for reducing symptoms and even reducing transmission has been scientifically proven,” Kaur said. “The vaccine has significantly reduced and even eliminated deaths caused by COVID-19. Vaccinations are important because it has lessened the strain of healthcare workers, and hospitals are no longer overwhelmed and overrun by [COVID-19] cases. I am happy individuals 12 and up are getting the vaccine and pleased with the rate of acceleration for this reason.”

Written by: Emmanuel Fonseca — features@theaggie.org

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