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Dr. urges covid shots for children


An ‘essential layer of protection’

Our state experienced the most devastating point of the pandemic last winter. More than 21,000 Californians were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the last week of December, and we lost 18,518 mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers to this deadly virus in January. The light at the end of the tunnel felt out of reach.

Today, we have the tools to help protect against another winter surge and avoid preventable hospitalizations and deaths: vaccines. More than 87 percent of eligible Californians have received at least one dose, and the FDA’s recent authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5-11 is a game changer. For the first time, whole families, from our young kids to our grandparents, can have protection against COVID-19.

As California’s first Surgeon General, I am committed to making vaccination available to every eligible Californian. And as a mom of four boys, I am reassured that by having my children vaccinated, I am doing everything I can to keep them, our family and our community safe.

The number of infections is increasing, largely in unvaccinated people, who are 9.5 times more likely to be hospitalized and 18.2 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than fully vaccinated people. People of color are being hardest hit. We need all eligible Californians to get vaccinated or complete their vaccination series and get a booster as soon as they are eligible to help bring this pandemic to an end.

As a pediatrician, I know how crucial vaccination is in protecting children against other preventable diseases like measles, mumps, and chicken pox. The COVID-19 vaccine, which is specially dosed for children ages 5-11, offers an essential layer of protection against this deadly virus.

In fact, the COVID-19 vaccines have gone through the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. vaccine history.

More than 700,000 children and adolescents in California have been infected with COVID-19. There have been more than 6,500 pediatric hospitalizations in our state since July of last year, and we have lost 37 young lives since the start of the pandemic. Children can experience “long COVID” and the virus can also cause Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), in which a hyperactive immune system attacks the child’s body. Our state alone has seen 660 of these cases, half of whom had to be hospitalized in intensive care units.

Vaccination not only helps prevent these troubling outcomes, but also reduces spread of the virus to our loved ones, such as grandparents and others with more vulnerable immune systems.

Protect your family. Call your pediatrician or a local health clinic to schedule your child’s vaccination appointment. You can also visit or call (833) 22-4255 to find a vaccination site near you.

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris is the Surgeon General of California. A pediatrician, she is at the forefront of the statewide campaign to reduce Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and toxic stress by half in one generation.