Henry Galush, 8, of Belmont gets his first shot of the pediatric Pfizer vaccine at Emmanuel Baptist Church in San Jose, Calif. on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021 - the first day children 5 - 11 years old can get inoculated. (Jana Kadah/Bay City News)

In response to the recent approval of pediatric COVID-19 vaccines, Sonoma County hopes to vaccinate 25 percent of the county’s 37,000 children ages 5 to 11 against COVID-19 by December and will start next week, local health and education officials announced Thursday.

The county will have about 7,500 doses of the vaccine to administer starting next week. Sonoma County health officials plan to give priority for their free clinics to neighborhoods with historically high COVID-19 cases and those without affordable health care. Families with health care insurance are encouraged to reach out to their providers to check their availability of dosages.

“Parents have been waiting for nearly a year to be able to get their younger children vaccinated,” county health officer Dr. Sundari Mase said in a statement. “The pediatric vaccine has shown to be safe and effective in preventing the worst outcomes from COVID. This is yet another critical tool that we have to protect more of our population from the virus.”

The Sonoma County Office of Education will also open up school vaccination clinics next week at Guerneville Elementary School, Jefferson Elementary School, Harmony Elementary School, McDowell Elementary School, Roseland Elementary School, Healdsburg Elementary School, Dunbar Elementary School and Cali Calmecac Language Academy.

The clinics are for students and families who attend those schools. More information on dates and times of distribution can be found at https://www.scoe.org/pub/htdocs/school_staff_immunization.html.

The Sonoma County Department of Health Services and the Office of Education will also host bilingual webinars with local doctors to answer any questions families may have. The first panel event will be on Nov. 16 at 5 p.m. on the county’s Facebook and Youtube pages. Parents can also send in questions to publicaffairs@sonoma-county.org.

Residents can visit SoCoEmergency.org/vaccine for more information on vaccine numbers and eligibility.