A vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic in the gymnasium of Antioch Middle School in Antioch, Calif., on May 19, 2021. (Eli Walsh/Bay City News)

Marin County is poised to vaccinate nearly 8,000 children to protect them from the COVID-19 virus, after state and federal regulators approved their use in children from the ages of 6 months to 4 years.

Appointments are opening this week, county officials said.

“Vaccinations will make every setting where kids gather safer, for kids and adults,” said Dr. Matt Willis, public health officer for Marin County. “We’ll all be able to worry a lot less about child care centers, playdates, parties and summer camps.”

Transmission rates of COVID remain high, with children under 5 years of age having the highest rates of any age group, according to county officials. Over 500 children under 5 have died from COVID nationally, they said, making the virus among the top ten causes of death in children.

There are two offerings of vaccines, one from Moderna and one from Pfizer, and both at lower doses for children.

The Moderna vaccine will be for children aged six months to 5 years, with two shots spaced one month apart. The Pfizer vaccine is for kids from six months to 4 years, and is three shots over 11 weeks. According to the county, the Pfizer dose regimen has been found to be 80 percent effective at preventing infection, “roughly twice as effective as the Moderna vaccine.”

Currently, the county says that 80 percent of children from the age of 5 to 18 are fully vaccinated.

Vaccination appointments can be made at MyTurn.ca.gov.