San Francisco plans to extend its indoor proof-of-vaccination requirements to children 5 to 11 years old, the first major U.S. city to do so, following the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s announcement Wednesday recommending the Pfizer-BioNTech lower-dose Covid vaccine for this age group.
The city, which has a proof-of-vaccination mandate for everyone 12 and older to access indoor activities, like restaurants, gyms and sporting events, said that San Franciscans should start preparing to show immunization cards for children 5 to 11 in the coming months.
"We definitely want to wait and make sure that children have an opportunity to get vaccinated," San Francisco Health Officer Dr. Susan Philip said during a Tuesday town hall on Covid-19 vaccination. "That will happen no sooner than about eight weeks after the vaccine is available to kids. So there will be a limited time in which there will not be those requirements, but then at some point, 5 to 11-year-olds will also have to show proof of vaccination to access some of those same settings."
The CDC announcement expands immunization recommendations to about 28 million children across the country. Regardless of possible proof-of-vaccination mandates, Dr. Michael Cabana, the physician-in-chief at The Children's Hospital at Montefiore in New York, said that vaccinating younger children is "another step towards returning to normalcy."
"It not only protects children but protects anyone that might be around kids, so there's a community protection that's going to occur as more people get vaccinated," Cabana said.
Cabana also said that younger children might experience "some discomfort" from the shot, but that for most children, the Pfizer vaccine is "generally very, very safe." He said the risk is low for community safety, which Philip echoed as she closed the town hall by saying she plans to have her own children vaccinated.
"I believe in this vaccine and the process it has taken to get to us, and I'm very eager to have both my 9 and my 6-year-old get vaccinated as soon as we possibly can," Philip said.