COVID vaccines available for kids 5 and under in LA County

Facilities across Los Angeles County are readying to administer pediatric COVID-19 vaccine doses after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved the shots for children under 5 over the weekend. 

The CDC unanimously recommended the shots for children aged 6 months and older on Saturday, with Director Dr. Rochelle Walenski signing off on the recommendation later that day.

"We know millions of parents and caregivers are eager to get their young children vaccinated, and with today’s decision, they can," Walensky said in a statement Saturday.

Dr. Norma Perez is a pediatrician for AltaMed Health Services. She says AltaMed will be administering vaccine doses to children once the doses arrive at their office.

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"The difference between an adult dose and a childhood dose is that it's much smaller. Any time would be a good time to get [children] vaccinated. A lot of activities will be happening during the summertime. A lot of people are excited to get together this summer, so the recommendation is anyone who is going to be participating in those events is vaccinated," said Perez.

Dr. Perez said children are just as susceptible to contracting COVID-19 as adults.

"The chances are just like everybody else, and we definitely saw that with the variants of delta and omicron that kids were just as likely to be infected with COVID. The vaccines, we have seen, decrease your chances of hospitalization, of death and of severe consequences like MIS-C," said Perez.

According to the county, over the past three months, unvaccinated children aged 12-17 were nearly four times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID than vaccinated children. Among vaccine-eligible children in the county who contracted confirmed cases of MIS-C, 65% were unvaccinated, officials said.

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Perez said the vaccines for Pfizer and Moderna are safe for kids. Pfizer's vaccine is a series of three shots for kids 6 months old to 4 years old and is a tenth of the adult dose. Moderna's vaccine is a series of two shots for kids 6 months old to 5 years old, and is a quarter of the adult dose.

"The side effects [for kids] may be some inflammation, some redness, some soreness at the site of injection and for the little ones, they get injected in their thigh. You may see fatigue and fever. What we've seen is that the vaccines are very effective and very safe and they do protect against those severe consequences of COVID," said Dr. Perez. 

City News Service contributed to this report.