LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- As some experts urge the FDA to authorize vaccines for children under the age of 12 amid a nationwide rise in COVID-19 cases among kids, one local city is ramping up efforts to get students vaccinated.
Long Beach is partnering with its education officials to get K12 and college students vaccinated against COVID-19 before the fall school year begins.
The Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services is offering extended hours and more vaccination clinics at the Long Beach Unified School District, Cal State Long Beach and Long Beach City College.
"We strongly encourage all community members, especially students headed back to in-person learning, to protect themselves and help keep our city healthy by getting the vaccine," Mayor Robert Garcia said Saturday.
The city's vaccine clinics will now include Wednesdays and Thursdays at CSULB, Saturdays at LBCC's Pacific Coast Campus and various mobile clinics at LBCC's Liberal Arts Campus, where special incentives will be offered.
Vaccine clinics on the CSULB campus will be available from noon to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays starting Aug. 11, near the campus bookstore located at 6049 E. Seventh St.
Last week, nearly 94,000 new COVID-19 cases among children were reported nationwide. Those figures come as the head of the American Academy of Pediatrics wrote to the FDA urging for authorization of vaccines for 5-11 year-olds.
The former acting director of the CDC is also urging parents to get their children over the age of 12 vaccinated.
"My message is we need to do everything we can to protect our kids and the biggest thing that we can do is get vaccinated yourself because that will protect your children, it will protect other people's children, it will protect adults," said Dr. Richard Besser. "In some of the places where we're seeing the biggest outbreaks, the vaccination rates are the lowest."
Currently, just 48.5% of people ages 12 to 17 are vaccinated against COVID-19 in Long Beach, representing the age group with the lowest percentage of vaccinations among all eligible age groups, officials said.
Vaccines are already being distributed at LBCC's Pacific Coast Campus, Parking Lot 1, at the corner of Orange Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5-8 p.m. Monday through Friday. In addition, the clinic will now be available from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays with greater vaccine and testing capabilities.
Additional mobile clinics are operating at LBCC's Liberal Arts Campus, Parking Lot 1, at the corner of Carson Boulevard and Clark Avenue, from 9-11 a.m., Tuesday, Aug. 10; and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Aug. 23, Thursday, Aug. 26, Monday, Aug. 30, and Tuesday, Aug. 31.
Those who get vaccinated at a mobile clinic can enjoy a free scoop of Handel's Homemade Ice Cream afterward, courtesy of the health department. Additionally, any LBCC fall semester student who gets immunized before Aug. 30 is eligible for a $300 voucher at the LBCC Barnes & Noble Bookstore.
The city continues to host vaccine clinics at LBUSD schools and local parks Mondays through Saturdays each week in addition to the vaccines available at local pharmacies and from medical providers. Minors must have a signed consent form from a parent or guardian prior to vaccination.
Eligible students at LBUSD and LBCC are encouraged but not required to have the vaccine to return to the classroom; however, there is a mandate in place that requires CSULB students to be immunized against COVID-19 to access campus facilities.
City News Service contributed to this report.