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Here’s how to get your teenager the COVID-19 vaccine

An 18-year-old gets a COVID-19 vaccine.
Tanya Mitchell administers a COVID-19 vaccine to Richard Ayala, 18, at the East Los Angeles Civic Center.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Beginning today, youth 12 to 15 can get the COVID-19 vaccine in L.A. County and elsewhere.

Here are the details:

Getting an appointment

Vaccination appointments can be made at VaccinateLACounty.com; the Spanish-language website is VacunateLosAngeles.com. People without internet access can call (833) 540-0473. County-run sites also will vaccinate people without an appointment.

California’s My Turn vaccine scheduling website had previously said families could begin scheduling appointments for 12- to 15-year-olds starting Thursday.

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Information for Orange County is available here.

All vaccine sites run by L.A. County will begin offering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to children 12 and older starting Thursday.

What you need

Anyone younger than 18 should be accompanied by a parent, guardian or responsible adult, and present photo identification and verification of age, county officials said.

Vaccine sites

County-run sites that are offering the Pfizer vaccine include Balboa Sports Complex in Encino, the Fairplex in Pomona, the Forum in Inglewood, Cal State Northridge, the L.A. County Office of Education in Downey and Eugene A. Obregon Park in East L.A.

A list of vaccine clinics around the county that offer the Pfizer vaccine can be found at bit.ly/PfizerSites.

The vaccine

The Federal Drug Administration on Monday authorized the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot for those as young as 12, sparking a race to protect middle and high school students before they head back to class in the fall.

Experts say about most Americans will need to be vaccinated to bring the coronavirus pandemic under control. Track California’s progress toward that goal.

The authorization

The FDA authorized the vaccine for adolescents after a study involving 2,260 participants ages 12 to 15; 1,131 were given the vaccine and 1,129 were given a saltwater placebo. The most common side effects among those who received the vaccine were generally mild and lasted one to three days — pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, chills, muscle pain, fever and joint pain. The side effects are similar to those for adults and older teenagers. Some people who got the shot did not experience any side effects.

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Among a group of 1,005 vaccine recipients who did not have evidence of prior infection with the coronavirus, there were no cases of COVID-19 reported, meaning “the vaccine was 100% effective in preventing COVID-19,” the FDA said in a statement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday reinforced the FDA’s authorization with its own recommendation that adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15 receive the vaccine.

The benefits

Officials say increasing vaccinations will help prevent children from becoming carriers of the coronavirus and protect them against multisystem inflammatory syndrome, or MIS-C, a rare but serious, painful and potentially deadly complication associated with COVID-19.

The syndrome can cause inflammation of a child’s heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs.

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There have been 508 cases of MIS-C in California. Half of the children who have been sickened with the inflammatory condition were previously healthy with no underlying conditions. Across California, 21 children have died of the inflammatory syndrome; their median age was 15.

All 186 MIS-C cases in L.A. County needed hospitalization, with about 40% of those children needing intensive care. Two children in L.A. County have died of the syndrome.


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