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Thousands of Vt. parents sign kids up for vaccinations

Published: Nov. 3, 2021 at 4:26 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Thousands of Vermont parents went online Wednesday to sign their children ages 5 to 11 up for a COVID vaccination following the final seal of approval from the CDC.

Many parents we spoke to said they hope the announcement will help turn the tide on the challenges many children have faced from the start of the pandemic and bring a return to normalcy for families.

“We’ve been waiting for it forever,” said John Moore, whose seven-year-old son is in second grade in Burlington.

Young kids are driving infections in Vermont right now. The state says 0 to 11-year-olds are testing positive at a higher rate than any other age group during the entire pandemic.

Moore says he jumped at the opportunity to sign up his child for an appointment next Tuesday. “We’ve got parents here that have had to have their kids here for multiple weeks at a time because they were exposed. I’m just trying to prevent that and keep him in school,” he said.

State clinic registration opened Wednesday morning for the Pfizer 2-shot regimen. Officials say over 10,000 signed up by 4 p.m. Wednesday almost one-quarter of the entire age bracket. Parents can also turn to pharmacies and pediatricians.

Health providers say having vaccinated kids will alleviate some pressure on parents who have been trying to keep their kids safe. “For those families and those children -- they can really start to return to those things that they were doing before the pandemic,” said Dr. Kristen Navarette, a pediatrician and medical director at MVP Health Care. She acknowledges some parents may be concerned about the shot but says the vaccine is safe and effective and side effects for children are likely to be mild. “One of the major concerns everyone talks about is myocarditis, which was seen in some of the older adolescent groups and young adult populations. We did not see that in the trial of this age group of 5 to 11-year-olds.”

And though kids under 5 still can’t get the shot, Navarette says having more people vaccinated will help cut down on the viral load and the relative community risk.

To answer parents’ questions, The Vermont chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics is holding virtual forums for parents and families.

Meanwhile, pediatricians, pharmacies, state clinics, and schools are gearing up to administer the shots - about 20,000 doses will be in the state by the end of the week. “We will move heaven and earth to get shots in our little kids’ arms,” said Montpelier Roxbury School District Superintendent Libby Bonesteel. She and other school administrators say more vaccinated kids means less quarantining, more in-person learning, and less pressure on parents.

Schools are also ramping up testing. Wednesday was Montpelier’s first go at the state’s Test to Stay program. Bonesteel says 45 sixth graders who were close contacts took antigen tests. All were negative, so they all got to go to class and skip quarantine. “Having them together in the classroom is imperative to their social-emotional health and just learning how to be humans,” she said.

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Vermont children can sign up for COVID shot Wednesday

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