South LA

L.A. County parents react to children ages 5 to 11 becoming eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

South L.A. parents share their perspectives on vaccinating their children.

Bea Sequeira jumped at the chance when she found out that she could book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment for her 7-year-old daughter.

Starting today, 900,000 children between the ages of 5 and 11 are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine in Los Angeles County. Pfizer-BioNTech’s pediatric vaccine is being offered under an emergency use authorization granted by the Food and Drug Administration. It was also endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“[My daughter] was very excited,” Sequeira said. “The only reason that I am not going Thursday or Friday is because I just want to make sure if there’s any side effects that we’re at home and she’s taken care of.”

"A photo of Bea Sequeira's daughter's artwork, which features a doodle of her Saturday vaccine appointment."

Other parents, such as Jazmin Gonzales, prefer to proceed with more caution. She opted to wait and see before vaccinating her eldest 14-year-old son and plans to do the same with her younger kids who are 9 and 10.

“I [felt] like I need[ed] to be a little bit cautious because of how quickly the vaccine was pushed through,” Gonzales said. “I’m going to wait until it’s given out in large doses to large groups of people to see how it goes, and then I’m going to get my boys vaccinated.”

Pfizer’s pediatric COVID-19 vaccine was found to be 91% effective on 5- to 11-year-olds with no serious side effects. It is one-third the adult dose and also offered in two shots.

“Our comprehensive and rigorous evaluation of the data pertaining to the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness should help assure parents and guardians that this vaccine meets our high standards,” Janet Woodcock, the FDA’s acting commissioner, said in an agency news release.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been more than two million total cases in the United States among children ages 5 to 11; 173 cases have resulted in deaths, according to the CDC.

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) will not require children 5 to 11 to be vaccinated. Students younger than 12 will be offered voluntary vaccine access, but receiving the shot will not be required. It is, however, “highly encouraged” by the LAUSD.

Mobile vaccination teams will offer 5- to 11-year-olds the pediatric vaccine starting November 8. 13 school-based clinics will join the effort beginning November 16, according to the LAUSD.

The pediatric vaccine is important, Sequeira said, because “it’s the only way that we’re all going to resume our lives pre-pandemic.”

LAUSD currently requires students 12 and older to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Students have to provide proof of vaccination by January 10 to access LAUSD school facilities in the spring semester. Those participating in extracurricular activities such as sports teams and clubs had an earlier deadline to provide proof of vaccination.

Pfizer is also studying smaller doses for children under five, according to the National Geographic. Vaccination sites for children ages 5 to 11 can be found through the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s website.