Since Covid-19 shots became available to 5- to 11-year-olds a little over a month ago, more than 578,000 young children in California have gotten at least one dose.
That at first appears to be a fairly ordinary statistic: California has vaccinated 16.4 percent of its 5- to 11-year-olds, roughly the same share that has been vaccinated nationwide in that age group.
But the local figures belie a complicated reality. Vaccination rates for the youngest eligible Californians vary widely across the state — and far more than they do for other age groups.
In San Francisco, 37 percent of 5- to 11-year-olds have gotten at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, more than double the rate in Los Angeles County, according to state data.
Even more extreme: In Marin County in the Bay Area, more than 58 percent of 5- to 11-year-olds are partially or fully vaccinated. In Kings County in the San Joaquin Valley, that figure is less than 5 percent.
The numbers reflect an existing divide in Covid-19 vaccination rates and pandemic precautions across California, as well as parents’ heightened fears when it comes to vaccinating their youngest children.
Still, Californians who have sought out vaccines for their 5- to 11-year-olds say they feel immense relief and an added layer of safety in the holiday season. Here are some stories you shared with me about your kids getting their shots:
“My 7-year-old, Paxton, recently completed his second Covid vaccination shot at a retail pharmacy in Napa. He was a little tentative about getting a shot. Upon sitting down, he asked the pharmacist, ‘Are you a professional?’ The kind man replied with seriousness, ‘Yes, I am. And here is my process. …’
Of course, Paxton didn’t follow the pharmacist’s process and watched the needle go into his arm. He said it hurt but shed no tears.” — Leslie Wong, Napa
“My 6-year-old, Jackson, has been asking us for nearly a year to get the vaccine! Though we live in sunny San Diego, Jackson loves to ski, and because he’s now vaccinated we can spend New Year’s skiing in Aspen with his grandparents.” — Julia Pautz, San Diego
“My 11-year-old daughter was vaccinated at a county vaccination center in what used to be a Victoria Secret’s store. I’m still laughing. Life can be hilarious. Thank goodness for that.” — Lisa Anderson Shaffer, Marin County
“With his parents and his grandmother having had a booster shot (plus his first vaccine shot done), my son was able to spend Thanksgiving with his grandmother and older, fully vaccinated cousins, even though none of the three households live in the same city.” — Gabriela Hernandez-Lepe, Menlo Park
“The kids (and us too!) are excited to celebrate Christmas Eve as they have every year except last — a giant family party at their grandparents’ house.
Cousins are everywhere, Santa comes to visit, and there’s always too much food. Life moved on throughout the pandemic — babies were born, tweens became teenagers, there were high school and college graduations, new relationships blossomed, and we also unfortunately lost loved ones along the way. But we haven’t been able to celebrate or grieve collectively as we would have two years ago, and being vaccinated means that we can have that again.”— Stephanie Setzer, Windsor
“My 5-year-old son, Zander, was the first child in his kindergarten class to get vaccinated and he was overjoyed.
Immediately after getting his shot, he told me that his top goals were to (1) see friends that he hasn’t seen since the beginning of the pandemic, and (2) visit New York so that he can meet the Ninja Turtles (in real life). I am guessing that one of those goals will be a bit easier to realize than the other.
Because of the vaccine, Zander was able to spend Thanksgiving with his grandparents, aunt, uncles and cousins — something he hasn’t done since the beginning of the Delta surge. I was hoping that this vaccine would allow us to have a birthday party for Zander in December and also continue to celebrate the winter holidays with extended family.
I am hoping that Omicron doesn’t ruin the joy and freedom that Zander has so longed for and is on the cusp of being able to enjoy.” — Jennifer Stark, Berkeley
The rest of the news
Inflation’s political impact: Rising prices in a battleground congressional district may hamper Democrats’ chances in next year’s midterm elections, The Washington Post reports.
Michael Mejia sentencing: A Southern California man who killed a police officer in 2017 was sentenced to life in prison, The Associated News reports.
Dangerous air quality: A coalition is suing the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to intervene on behalf of San Joaquin Valley residents, who breathe some of the most polluted air in the country, Capital & Main reports.
Plane crash: Four family members were killed in a single-engine airplane crash, The Associated Press reports.
What you get
For $1.5 million, homes in Sacramento, San Francisco and Altadena.
Where we’re traveling
Today’s travel tip comes from Jim Van Buskirk, a reader who lives in San Francisco:
“I‘ve lived in the Bay Area for over 50 years and had never heard of Hakone Gardens.
Originally the private estate of San Francisco philanthropists inspired by the Japanese exhibits at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, it is now a public park in Saratoga. Its designer was from a long line of Japanese imperial gardeners, and many Japanese artisans used traditional materials and techniques to create the Moon Viewing Upper House, the Lower House and the koi pond.
Arguably less ostentatious than the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park (built as part of the California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894), this stately garden, now on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, is a hidden gem, only a stone’s throw from shops and eateries of Historic Saratoga Village.”
Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to CAtoday@nytimes.com. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.
What we’re recommending
The best movies of 2021, according to our critics.
We’re looking for testers for our next dialect quiz. If you’re interested in answering some questions about how you talk, click here.
(Act fast! The quiz will close after a certain number of people have participated.)
And before you go, some good news
A tradition dating back nearly four decades, the California International Marathon returned over the weekend after it was canceled last year because of the pandemic.
On Sunday morning, more than 9,000 competitors ran 26.2 miles, from the shores of Folsom Lake into downtown Sacramento and to the finish line in front of the State Capitol, The Sacramento Bee reported.
Many participants said they were grateful to once again run amid a sea of people.
“I’ve done other marathons but I always want to come back here and do it at home,” said Brendan Gregg, a Davis resident who finished first — in 2 hours, 11 minutes, 21 seconds — with the third-fastest time ever recorded at the event.
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