Get kids vaccinated to keep schools open, state officials say

State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett
State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett(WWNY)
Published: Dec. 27, 2021 at 12:16 PM EST
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ALBANY, New York (WWNY) - State officials continue to push for more people to be vaccinated, particularly among younger populations.

At a COVID-19 briefing Gov. Kathy Hochul held Monday morning, state Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said there’s been an uptick in pediatric COVID-19 hospital admissions.

She said the Health Department sent out a health alert, primarily to pediatricians, about the increase.

In the week of December 5-11, there were 70 cases admitted statewide and 22 in New York City. The statewide numbers increased two-and-a-half-fold to 184 last week while the city’s number jumped nearly five-fold to 109.

“We are releasing these data because we want pediatricians to be alert to making the diagnosis of COVID in children and we also want parents to be alert to the diagnosis,” Bassett said. “Many people continue to think that children don’t become infected with COVID .”

The biggest problem, she said, is that vaccinations in this age group remain low.

“We need to get child vaccinations up, we need to get them higher than they are, particularly in the 5- to 11-year-old age group.”

Bassett said pediatricians and parents can both play a role improving those numbers.

She said about 27 percent of those 5-11 have had one dose, compared with 75 per cent of ages 12-18 and 95 percent of adults.

Hochul also pointed out the need for more child vaccinations in order to make sure school stay open.

“All of us agree we have a strong public interest in keeping our kids in school,” she said. “We went through the social experiment of keeping them isolated and what teachers had to go through – and parents and the children – was extraordinary.”

That’s why, she said, it’s important to keep schools open.

“Parents, we’re encouraging you to get your kids vaccinated during the break and school districts, encouraging you to do your best efforts to limit the transmission,” she said.

The governor said officials are working to get millions of COVID-19 test out for the state’s 731 school districts to administer to children.

“We want to make sure these school stay open,” she said.

While she said that could change if things get worse, “it is not a good option to say children are going home again.”

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