UC Santa Barbara’s Early Childhood Care & Education Services is hosting a free COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Orfalea Family Children’s Center for children from ages 6 months to 11 years old.

No insurance is required and walk-ins are allowed. Essa Shamsan / Daily Nexus

The center gave its first doses on July 27 and will administer second doses of the vaccine on Aug. 24 between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. No insurance is required and walk-ins are allowed. The initiative aims to fully vaccinate children in the greater Santa Barbara area, according to UCSB Early Childhood Care & Education Services (ECCES) director Annette Muse.

As of Aug. 18, 31.4% of children ages 5-11 in Santa Barbara County completed their primary series of the COVID-19 vaccine, per data from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). However, only 200 children under the age of 5 have finished their two-shot vaccine series. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends that everyone age 6 months and older receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The university is hoping to provide for the community by standardizing and increasing the accessibility of COVID-19 vaccines for children, Muse said. 

“Some of the pharmacies are able to give the vaccine, but they are not licensed or permitted to give the vaccine to children under 3 years of age,” Muse said. “A number of families were also having a difficult time getting an appointment with a pediatrician that was able to give the vaccine, so the vaccine was not quite as available to the younger children as it was to adults earlier on.” 

Muse added she believes it’s their responsibility to educate parents on the importance of vaccines. 

“To definitely educate parents and create awareness is an important part of our responsibility to families, and I also feel that anything we can do to make it easier for families to get the vaccine for their children is important,” Muse continued.

Muse said CDPH approached ECCES to conduct a free COVID-19 vaccination clinic for children. If the need arises, she said that ECCES would be open to hosting more clinics to help standardize the child-vaccination process. 

“I’m hoping, one, that [community members] not only see that the university has opened its doors and is providing to the community but also, two, to just make it a lot easier on families to secure the vaccine if that’s what they would like for their child or their children,” Muse said.

A version of this article appeared on p. 5 of the Aug. 25, 2022, print edition of the Daily Nexus

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