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How Vt. health officials are trying to convince kids to get COVID shots

Published: May. 20, 2021 at 5:13 PM EDT|Updated: May. 20, 2021 at 5:37 PM EDT
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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - It’s been one week since Vermont kids, 12-15, were cleared to make appointments to get the COVID-19 vaccine. About 13% of them have gotten a dose. Health officials want that number higher but say they’re not concerned yet.

There is some hesitancy among parents and kids. So, the state is holding open forums and clinics are trying to bring the vaccine right to the kids.

“Some of these kids think they’re a little bit bulletproof, or their friend didn’t get one, or they saw something on Facebook. So for us, it’s just getting past those barriers of vaccine hesitancy,” said Fran Sun, the vaccine clinic supervisor for the Rutland Regional Medical Center.

At this week’s two-day vaccine clinic held at Rutland High School, the Rutland Regional Medical Center was allocated 660 shots but they only administered about 180.

“The hours of day may not have suited a lot of students. If they didn’t go to that high school, it may have been hard for them to get there,” Sun said. “All in all, our numbers are reflecting a decent show up for that age group.”

As of Thursday morning, 13.4% of 12-to-15-year-olds have received their first shot, with Addison County taking the lead at 36% and Windham County coming up short with 3%.

It’s not just the kids who are hesitant.

“I’m trying to decide and that’s why I’m on here,” mom Sarah Leduc said.

The Vermont Health Department held a meeting Wednesday night assuring people the vaccine is OK for kids and allowing parents like Leduc to ask questions.

“It’s becoming this cool thing to have the sticker on your phone and she really wants to get it. I’m just trying to educate myself more,” Leduc explained.

One popular question is regarding long-term effects on kids and whether this vaccine could contribute to future fertility problems.

“This whole goes around every time there is a new vaccine we talk about. So, things get generated and propagated, but the answer is no,” said Dr. Elliot Rubin of University Pediatric Associates.

As of 9:30 a.m. Thursday, more than 9,500 12-to-15-year-olds registered for their shots. That’s out of about 27,000 Vermont kids in that age group.

The Rutland Regional Medical Center’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Holiday Inn has seen what they consider a good number, administering the first dose to 573 kids 12-15 as of Wednesday night.

“These kids rely a lot on their peer group,” Sun said, “so the more people we vaccinate in that age group, the more people we are going to vaccinate.”

The Vermont Health Department says they are committed to bringing this vaccine to teens and continue to hold school-based clinics. Click here for the schedule of school vaccination clinics.

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