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San Diegans ages 12-15 are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Photo courtesy of County of San Diego Communications Office
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Pfizer vaccine OK’d for teens; County reports 94 new COVID-19 cases

REGION — San Diego County residents age 12 and up are eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine starting today.

The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup — an interstate compact comprised of the public health departments of California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Colorado to fight the pandemic — approved the Pfizer- BioNTech vaccine for 12-to-15-year-olds late Wednesday.

Gov. Gavin Newsom released a statement confirming that the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup had reviewed the use of the vaccine and determined it is safe to use for anyone age 12 and up.

“I encourage those who are now eligible to get vaccinated,” Newsom’s statement read. “Expanding vaccine access to teenagers is a critical step in defeating this pandemic and will get us that much closer to safely reopening California’s economy next month.”

The 175,864 county youths in that age group can now make vaccine appointments on the state’s MyTurn page — https://myturn.ca.gov/. All of the county’s static vaccination clinics will have Pfizer vaccines on hand for drop-in appointments — as opposed to the mobile clinics, which use primarily Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

Consent from a parent or guardian is required to get the vaccine.

“We’re looking forward to joining with schools, pediatricians and all of our medical partners in the region to vaccinate this new cohort of eligible people,” said Dr. Wilma J. Wooten, county public health officer.

“The reports from the Food and Drug Administration show the vaccine is extremely effective for young people of these ages, and adding them to our vaccinated roles will better improve public health and protect the vulnerable and those not eligible to be vaccinated.”

Meanwhile, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency on Wednesday reported just 94 new COVID-19 cases out of 12,693 tests logged — a positivity rate of less than 1%.

The last time the county saw so few cases was May 31, 2020, when 73 cases were reported — nearly a full calendar year ago.

San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the county expects at least 200,000 vaccine doses next week, Pfizer representing two-thirds of them. This follows a week in which the county received 302,030 doses from all vaccine manufacturers.

“There are plenty of vaccines available,” he said.

The county has received 3,699,585 doses of coronavirus vaccine and has administered 3,229,407 of them.

A total of 1,748,016 people have received one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, 86.7% of the way toward reaching the county’s goal of vaccinating 75% of San Diego County residents 16 and older, or 2,017,011 people.

A total of 1,286,108 — or 63.8% of the county’s goal — in the 16-or- older age range are fully inoculated with either two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Those percentages are likely to change significantly when the 12-15 age cohort is added to county data sometime this week.

Wednesday’s data increased the total case count to 278,401. County officials did not report any additional deaths at their Wednesday press briefing, leaving the death toll at 3,725.

According to data from the California Department of Public Health, San Diego County made significant strides in reducing adjusted daily case rates. The county’s rate dropped from five new daily cases per 100,000 people to 3.7 this week.

To graduate into the “yellow” or least-restrictive tier of the state’s reopening plan, the county must report fewer than two cases per 100,000 — a metric Fletcher believes the county is unlikely to reach before most restrictions are lifted statewide on June 15.

The county’s positivity rate declined to 1.7% and the health equity positivity rate — how the state measures a county’s most vulnerable or underserved quartile — declined to 2%. Both of these numbers are good enough for yellow tier — however, a county is represented by its worst performing of three metrics. That leaves San Diego County in the orange tier, which features some business restrictions.

Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines will be available Thursday at two San Diego Unified School District high school campuses for anyone age 16 and over.

UC San Diego planned to administer the vaccines on Wednesday and Thursday at Morse and San Diego high schools.

The schools hosting the clinics have notified families about the free vaccines and provided them with a parent consent form that must be signed for students younger than 18 to receive a vaccine, according to the SDUSD.

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