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California coast welcomes children’s COVID photos.  Inland regions do not

Early demand for the COVID-19 vaccine for young children has been surprisingly uneven in California, with some areas accepting vaccines and others much more slowly in accepting them, an analysis of the Times data found.

It’s a pattern that worries experts and could have serious implications for how a winter wave of coronavirus could spread to various parts of the state.

In San Francisco, 30% of 5-11 year olds have received an injection since the vaccination was authorized for the age group three weeks ago. In Santa Clara County, home to Silicon Valley, the figure is 28%, and in Marin County, once a hotbed of anti-vaccination sentiment, it’s a staggering 46%, according to a Times analysis. state data.

These rates are well above the national rate of 12% and the national rate of 13%. Los Angeles and Orange counties report that 12% of children in this age group are partially immunized; San Diego County reports 13% and Ventura County 10%.

Yet vaccine uptake for children lags across interior California, with rates of 5% in San Bernardino and Kern counties, 6% in Riverside County, and 7% in Fresno County. .

“In a sense, the higher levels of vaccination rates among 5 to 11 year olds are somewhat of a surrogate measure for vaccine acceptance at all ages,” said the UCLA epidemiologist, the Dr Robert Kim-Farley.

Typically, the areas in California with the slowest vaccine delivery rate – rural Northern California and the Central Valley – have the highest hospitalization rates for COVID-19.

“There will be a winter wave,” said UC San Francisco epidemiologist Dr. George Rutherford. “What worries me the most is the Central Valley, in more rural California, where vaccination rates are lower than other parts of the state and currently have high transmission levels.”

The outlook is most optimistic for the San Francisco Bay Area, which has the highest vaccination rate in the state and the lowest COVID-19 hospitalization rate.

“In parts of California where vaccination rates are higher, I think we can expect the winter push to be duller. We can avoid it; we can not. I suspect it will be just at a lower level, ”Rutherford said.

The future of southern California coastal counties is less clear. It is possible that the level of vaccination, as well as the naturally acquired immunity during last winter’s outbreak, may leave the larger metropolitan areas in Southern California “reasonably protected,” Rutherford said.

In a diverse area like LA County, there will likely be areas with varying rates of COVID-19 vaccination, said Dr Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, chair of UC’s Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. San Francisco.

“At the end of the day, the experience with vaccination rates is very local. And so, how it will play out – it could be an average of the two extremes in the Bay Area and the San Joaquin Valley, but probably more [likely], it will be that some communities are really much more protected, and some will have the potential to have surprisingly higher transmission rates, especially as the holidays approach, ”said Bibbins-Domingo.

The Inland Empire already suffers from significantly worse COVID-19 hospitalization rates than southern California coastal counties. Riverside County has double the COVID-19 hospitalization rate in LA County, while San Bernardino County has tripled the rate. In San Bernardino, the daily number of patients has increased by about 34% since mid-October.

In San Bernardino and Riverside counties, less than 55% of residents of all ages are fully immunized, compared to about 65% in LA and Orange counties and over 75% in several Bay Area counties.

“They are much less well placed before winter and the holidays due to their relatively lower vaccination coverage rates – not only among 5-11 year olds, but in all age groups,” said Kim-Farley. .

Infected children can be important players in the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus. Recently, children aged 5 to 11 have at times had the highest rates of coronavirus cases among all pediatric groups in Los Angeles and Orange counties. Young children are not only at risk of getting sick on their own, but they can also pass the virus on to older parents, who, even if fully immunized, would be at a higher risk of developing a serious illness. if they contract an infectious infection.

Nationally, weekly new cases of coronavirus in children of all ages have increased by about 32% since the start of the month, resulting in more than 140,000 children with confirmed infections for the seven-day period. ended Thursday, according to an analysis by the American Academy of Pediatrics and Children’s Hospital Assn. Children now represent 25% of new cases reported in the country.

While some people have noted that children are less likely to suffer from severe illness from COVID-19 than adults, it remains crucial that they get vaccinated, epidemiologists say. The number of children aged 5 to 11 who died from COVID-19 over a one-year period – 66 – makes COVID-19 the equivalent of the eighth leading cause of death for this age group.

Some doctors are also concerned about the possible long-term consequences of COVID in children, such as higher rates of depression or anxiety, difficulty concentrating in school, or long-term headaches. Children also have a rare risk of developing multisystem inflammatory syndrome from COVID-19 which can lead to serious illness and death.

“Getting children immunized is an important part of increasing overall immunization coverage and limiting transmission,” said Rutherford. “High vaccination equals low transmission. Low vaccination leads to high transmission.

Officials must recognize that it is likely more difficult for people in low-income communities to access COVID-19 vaccines for children, Bibbins-Domingo said.

“When you look into the central valley, I worry both about the active reluctance and whether we have the resources to reach all the communities in those areas? … How effective are we at delivering vaccines to all the communities where we need them? ” she said.

LA County officials fear that blacks and Latinos between the ages of 5 and 11 and those in low-income households will be less likely to get the shot.

The LA County Department of Public Health said Tuesday that white children were three times more likely than black and Latino children to get the vaccine. While 13% of white children, 14% of Asian American children, and 12% of Native American children in this age group received an injection, only 4% of black children and 3% of Latino children had. to November 14.

Children of this age group living in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods are vaccinated at a third of the rate of those in wealthier communities: 3.9% against 12.5%.

“If we continue to see disparities in pediatric immunization that put black and Latin children at higher risk as transmission increases, we might again see a situation where these communities suffer the most during an outbreak,” he said. said Barbara Ferrer, LA County Public Health Director. a statement Tuesday.

Last week, Ferrer said the disparities in vaccinations demonstrated the need to “build confidence in the safety and efficacy of the pediatric vaccine by ensuring parents have the right information, get their questions answered. and know where to go to have their child vaccinated ”. said Ferrer.

Ferrer said LA County is working to improve access to vaccines for children in areas where it has been difficult. As of last week, there were over 700 sites across the county administering doses to children ages 5 to 11; hundreds more are expected to start doing so in the coming weeks.

There are good reasons many experts expect a winter wave to hit California.

Nationally, daily new cases of coronavirus have increased by 30% over the past month, from about 72,000 to 94,000; COVID-19-related hospitalizations have increased 15% in the past two weeks.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rates California as having “substantial” community transmission, the second worst category on its four-step scale.

California saw its weekly case rate and hospitalization rate increase at the end of October; however, over the past two weeks both numbers have declined.

Yet the state has stabilized at a relatively high rate. The number of reported daily cases is more than four times higher than in mid-June, when the state reopened its economy and lifted most pandemic-related restrictions on public spaces. COVID-19-related hospitalizations are now three times higher than what the state was aware of at that time.

Warning signs are also apparent in other states, where the coronavirus is once again unleashed. California’s overall full vaccination rate is about the same as that of Colorado, Minnesota, and New Mexico, all of which are experiencing flare-ups and overcrowding in hospitals.

“Our 63%, while great, is not enough,” Rutherford said of California’s vaccination rate.

In Fresno County, hospitals are constantly operating above capacity and ambulances are forced to idle outside hospitals before they can unload patients in crowded emergency rooms.

“We don’t have enough hospitals to meet the population and the needs,” said Dr Rais Vohra, acting health officer for Fresno County.

Times editors Sean Greene and Thomas Suh Lauder contributed to this report.

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