Los Angeles Unified School District will offer COVID vaccine for students, but won't require it

According to the district, students aged 5 to 11 won't be required to get the shot, though it's "highly encouraged."
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The Los Angeles Unified School District said it welcomes a COVID-19 vaccine for children, but it's not adding younger students to its mandate.

According to a statement issued by the district on Tuesday, children aged 5 to 11 won't be required to get the shot, though the district says it's "highly encouraged."

Their mobile vaccination sites will start offering doses of the Pfizer vaccine to children aged 5 to 11 on Monday, Nov. 8. The following week, 13 school-based clinics will offer the vaccine.

The district said those clinics will also administer shots on select Saturdays. You can find more information on LAUSD's website.

"COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and the best way to protect our students, staff and families, and public schools are natural sites for our students and families to receive this life-saving vaccine," said the district.

On Tuesday, Los Angeles County received its first shipment of pediatric doses of the vaccine. Officials said they could start administering them as early as Wednesday or Thursday.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the pediatric shots last week, and a CDC advisory committee OK'd them Tuesday morning. CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky gave final approval Tuesday afternoon, making the shots immediately available to those age 5-11.

County health officials said there are 900 providers in the county that are ready to administer the pediatric doses.

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US health officials have given the final OK to Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for children as young as 5.

The city of Long Beach, which has its own health department separate from the county, will begin offering the pediatric doses beginning Friday. The city estimated there are 43,900 kids aged 5-11 residing in Long Beach.

While the pediatric shots are a lower dosage than the adult vaccine, the doses must be given on the same schedule -- two shots administered 21 days apart. The pediatric shots will be offered under an emergency use authorization, the same authorization given to the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, and to the Pfizer vaccine for people age 12-15. Pfizer's vaccine has full federal approval for people aged 16 and up.

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In Los Angeles County, 80% of residents age 12 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine, while 72% are fully vaccinated, according to the county.

Among the county's overall population of 10.3 million people, including those under age 12 who aren't yet eligible for the shots, 69% have received at least one dose, and 61% are fully vaccinated.

Black residents continue to have the lowest vaccination rates, with just 56% having received at least one dose. That compares with 64% of Latino/a residents, 74% of white residents and 83% of Asians. Younger Black residents have particularly low vaccination rates, with the youngest age group at 43% with at least one dose.

City News Service, Inc. contributed to this report.
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