Vaccination stock

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Twenty-six percent of Sonoma County residents have not received any COVID-19 vaccinations, and almost half of that percentage are children under the age of 12, an age group that isn’t currently eligible for the vaccine.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is scheduled to meet on Oct. 26 to review safety data and consider authorizing shots for children aged 5 to 11, and in the meantime, the Sonoma County Department of Public Health and local health leaders are drawing up plans to provide free vaccinations to children as soon as the vaccine is authorized for children.

“The county remains focused on administering first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to the 23% of eligible residents who are not fully immunized. Even as it intensifies initiatives to immunize this group of 95,700 people aged 12 and older, the county is also preparing to support efforts to vaccinate 37,000 children between the ages of 5 and 11 starting as soon as November, if authorized by federal regulators,” according to a recent County of Sonoma press release.

While the county waits to receive word about pediatric COVID vaccinations, the county has, as of Oct. 7, delivered its 700,000 dose of vaccine.

As of last week, a total of 335,148 residents are now fully vaccinated, a number equal to 77% of the county’s eligible population. Another 32,657 residents are partially vaccinated, about 8% of the eligible population in Sonoma County.

“We have worked hard to get to this point, but we cannot rest while many are needlessly exposed to a virus that preys upon their vulnerability,” Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase said in a statement. “The vaccine is safe, effective and widely available for free. Most importantly, it is saving lives. By bolstering our natural immune systems, it is keeping people out of the hospital and protecting them from the worst effects of COVID-19.”

According to the same county press release, since January, the hospitalization rate among unvaccinated county residents is seven times higher than that of vaccinated county residents.

As of Oct. 1, 81% of the 31 people hospitalized in Sonoma County for COVID-19 complications were unvaccinated. All 11 patients with complications severe enough to require intensive care unit admission were unvaccinated.

Mase said the COVID vaccine is also, “slowing the spread of the virus in our community, allowing schools and businesses to remain open, and people who are vaccinated to socialize safely with friends and family who have also been vaccinated.”

Walk in appointments for vaccine first or second doses are now accepted at most clinics and pharmacies.

Residents may also make appointments at the county’svaccine clinic page or through website. Residents who need help making an appointment are encouraged to call the county COVID-19 hotline at 707-565-4667.

For more information COVID-19 and the vaccine, visit the county website here.

Staff Writer

Katherine Minkiewicz-Martine has been a staff writer with The Healdsburg Tribune and SoCoNews for over two years. She graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in journalism.

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