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This week saw substantial movement in the fight against Covid-19 with vaccinations opening up to people as young as 12 years old and loosening of federal mask guidance, though the latter is not yet applicable to Californians.

On Monday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for adolescents between 12 and 15 years old. The vaccine was previously approved for use in people as young as age 16. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are still only approved for use in people at least 18 years old.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention followed suit with a recommendation Tuesday “that endorsed the safety and effectiveness” of the Pfizer formula for people ages 12 to 15. As of Thursday afternoon, all nine Bay Area counties are accepting appointments for the younger age group at specific clinics that offer the Pfizer two-dose formula.

People under the age of 18 are required to have consent from a parent or legal guardian. If possible, parents or guardians can consent by attending the vaccine appointment, or they can complete a consent form the minor can bring with them at the time of the appointment. As consent requirements vary slightly by county, it is advised people clarify what is needed with their specific county health department.

The CDC Thursday also announced a major relaxation of federal mask guidelines, which allows fully vaccinated people to ditch masks in most indoor settings. The new guidance does not apply to large crowds or congregate settings such as homeless shelters and correctional facilities. California, however, has not adopted the new CDC guidelines. Instead, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that the state’s outdoor mask mandate would be lifted June 15 if new case and hospitalization rates continue to decrease.

Newsom said:

“For indoor activities we will still likely have some mask guidelines and mandates. But we hope sooner than later that those will be lifted as well.” 

According to the California Department of Health, fully vaccinated individuals are still expected to wear face coverings “in indoor settings outside of one’s home” with exceptions for visits with other fully vaccinated people. The CDPH does not require masks among low-risk unvaccinated people from a single household. The complete California mask guidance, updated May 3, can be accessed on the CDPH website.

The table below reflects the most current Covid-19 data available for each of the nine Bay Area counties, including tier designation in the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy:

CountyTotal CasesTotal Deaths*New Daily Cases Per 100kCurrently Hospitalized: Confirmed% > = **16: At Least One Dose% > = **16: Fully VaccinatedTier
Alameda87,9401,65747373.8%53.9%Orange
Contra Costa68,8037934.83768.1%56.6%Orange
Marin11,8141833.6485.6%72%Orange
Napa9,875815.6167%51%Orange
San Francisco36,4005392.71775%58%Yellow
San Mateo41,8905683.61676.8%56.6%Yellow
Santa Clara119,0102,0883.25973.7%54.1%Orange
Solano32,9532177.41360%43%Red
Sonoma30,0353142.6670%55%Orange
*New daily cases per 100,000 people reported by the California Department of Public Health without rate adjustments for tier assignments in the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. **Some counties have adjusted vaccination percentage reporting to include residents as young as 12.

Nik Wojcik

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