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MO Health Centers Get Word Out on COVID Vaccines for Younger Kids

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Tuesday, November 9, 2021   

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Health officials are optimistic broad immunity against COVID-19 can be achieved for children, because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended a pediatric version of Pfizer's vaccine for kids 5-11 years old.

COVID infection rates are largely falling in Missouri and the U.S., but experts said we are not out of the woods yet.

Jessica Miller, registered respiratory therapist and COVID coordinator for Katy Trail Community Health in Central Missouri, said it is important to keep the state's kids protected.

"When you look at birth to 18-year-olds, it's the eighth leading cause of death, COVID was, for 2020," Miller reported. "Our education is really just to make sure that we're protecting the most vulnerable parts of our population."

Missouri residents have reported more than 700,000 cases of COVID since the start of the pandemic. And more than 65% of residents 12 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

There still are rural pockets of America where resistance to the COVID vaccine remains strong.

Dr. Ron Yee, chief medical officer for the National Association of Community Health Centers, said local centers are working to mitigate vaccine hesitancy through community outreach, adding accurate information is key.

"We have to have a really good critical eye because social media can either add to or spread misinformation," Yee pointed out. "It's really important that we're trying to teach people how to look at these studies that come out with a good objective eye. "

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 vaccines.

Chris Stewart, CEO of Katy Trail Community Health, urged parents who may be hesitant to get their child the vaccine to come to one of their clinics, and staff will be ready to answer any questions.

"Our intention is never to push people, but just be really available and answer any questions that folks have," Stewart remarked.

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


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