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PA DOH aims to educate about vaccination in kids 5-11

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DICKSON CITY, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Hospitals, pediatrician’s offices and pharmacies statewide are receiving kid doses of COVID vaccines for the youngest eligible patients. Now, the goal is to get as many 5 to 11-year-old children as possible vaccinated against the virus.

Just two days after the CDC gave the green light on these kid doses, the state’s acting health secretary made a stop in Lackawanna County. She strongly encouraged families today to get their young children vaccinated and protected from COVID-19 before an uncertain winter.

“This is great news for parents, for teachers, for pediatricians and community members everywhere,” PA Department of Health Acting Secretary Alison Beam said.

At a news conference outside Pediatrics of Northeastern Pennsylvania, health officials emphasized why getting the commonwealth’s more than 890,000 children ages 5 to 11 vaccinated against COVID is so important.

“Making sure that they have that extra layer of protection is going to be critical to moving Pennsylvania out of the pandemic,” said Beam.

Roughly two million US children ages 5 to 11 have been infected to date with COVID-19. About 100 of them have died.

Mom Jennifer Kapp didn’t delay. The Dalton woman brought her 7-year-old daughter to the Dickson City site Thursday morning to get her first COVID shot.

“Time is our greatest asset and the quicker we get them vaccinated, especially coming up on the holidays now, Thanksgiving, Christmas,” said Kapp.

A time when families and friends gather and a time when medical experts say the vaccine can help prevent COVID infection in children and those they’re with.

“It’s protecting everyone else so they don’t become carriers and spread it along to other people who are at high risk for serious illness or death or dying,” explained Kapp.

Despite clinical trials which showed the Pfizer kid doses triggered fewer side effects in the 5 to 11-year-old age group than adults and provided about 90 percent protection against COVID, there’s still vaccine reluctance.

A recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey finds a third of surveyed parents are taking a wait-and-see approach to the kid-sized vaccine dose. About another third are saying no way, no how.

“Certainly the children vaccine program is something that we’re really going to have to do a lot of education on and make parents feel safe and inform them that it is safe,” said Representative Bridget Malloy Kosierowski (D) 114th District.

As for Kapp, her son who will turn 5 in December is on deck for the vaccine.

“That’s what we joke with him. Happy birthday. Here we are at the pediatrician’s office,” Kapp joked.

The plan is to send school kids home with information to their parents or guardians explaining the safety and effectiveness of kid doses of the COVID vaccine. State officials also say they have no plans to make the vaccine mandatory for students.

Below you can watch the full press conference of the Department of Health discussing children receiving the vaccine.

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