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COVID Battle Enters New Phase With Childhood Vaccinations

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Monday, November 8, 2021   

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Health officials are optimistic that broad immunity against COVID-19 can be achieved for children, now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended a pediatric version of Pfizer's vaccine for kids 5 to 11 years old.

COVID infection rates are largely falling in the U.S, but experts such as Ezreal Garcia - the director of Community Relations and Emergency Preparedness for Houston's Community Health Network - have said parents who opt to have their children vaccinated could help improve the school environment and end the pandemic sooner.

"I'm encouraging them to consult their pediatrician," said Garcia. "If they feel they're unsure that their child should get it, the best person that would know outside of themselves, would be their pediatrician."

In San Antonio, parents and guardians who help their children get vaccinated at a public health clinic can claim a $100 gift card at their local HEB grocery store.

Dr. Ron Yee, chief medical officer at the National Association of Community Health Centers, said despite its availability, he doesn't expect all eligible kids will step up and get a vaccine right away.

"There'll be some, like we saw with the adults, that immediately come in," said Yee. "There's going to be some that come in later, there's going to be some on the fence. And there's going to be some that start with, 'No, I don't want to get this.' "

There still are rural pockets of America where resistance to the COVID vaccine remains strong. Garcia said that's why health centers are working with local partners to mitigate vaccine hesitancy through community outreach.

"Data and science have proven that vaccines are working," said Garcia, "whether it's meningitis, whether it's flu vaccine, whether it's other vaccines."

Community Health Centers have been caring for those living in poverty and other hard-to-reach populations since the mid-1960s. To date, the centers have completed nearly 16 million vaccinations.



Disclosure: National Association of Community Health Centers contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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