Five students in the 12 to 15 age group were given COVID-19 vaccines Tuesday at a San Diego high school a day after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized emergency use for those ages – but the county has not yet approved that practice.
Federal officials’ announcement on the authorized use was met with confusion by residents on whether young teenagers in San Diego County could get their shots already. Since California requires ultimate approval from a regional workgroup and each individual county after that, COVID-19 vaccines are not yet available to residents ages 12 to 15, according to San Diego County officials.
Due to that confusion, five young teens were administered COVID-19 shots at Hoover High School Tuesday morning.
A county spokesperson said representatives from UC San Diego called for clarification and the county told them that vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds was not yet approved in San Diego.
A UC San Diego Health spokesperson said that's when they paused distribution.
UC San Diego Health later added that they based their decision to vaccinate those 12 to 15 on "careful review by its own infectious disease and vaccine experts."
The health group also confirmed that they had begun to schedule vaccines for those 12 to 15.
One young girl who spoke to NBC 7 on the condition of anonymity said she showed up at the high school at 8 a.m. and was vaccinated. However, when her friend arrived shortly after, he was turned away.
Hoping to get her own 12-year-old daughter vaccinated, San Diegan Andrea McCullough also arrived at Hoover High School.
“I had heard through the grapevine that UCSD was vaccinating 12-year-olds and I got an email from my principal saying we can bring her in,” McCullough recalled.
Ultimately, her daughter was also turned away because the county does not yet have the necessary approval to administer vaccines to her age group.
“I don’t like shots but I did want to get the vaccine just because of the bigger picture so I’m kind of disappointed and kind of relieved,” Sophie McCullough said.
It’s unclear when the vaccines would be available to San Diegans ages 12 to 15, but the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, which must approve the FDA’s recommendation first, is expected to discuss the matter in a meeting on Wednesday. After their approval, each county will get to decide if and when to make the shots available for the youngsters.
For now, UC San Diego Health said it will await further guidance from the county to move forward and in regards to the young teenagers who were already vaccinated.
Until then, anyone ages 16 or over is eligible to get their COVID-19 shots in San Diego County.