Cheers to pediatric vaccine clinics. 

With children ages 5 to 11 now eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19, it is imperative to make the shots available as much as possible for that age group.

Children are the final frontier, so to speak, when it comes to vaccinating the public in an attempt to quell this deadly pandemic.

As we know, children in elementary school pose a significant possibility of spreading COVID just by the nature of their school circumstances.

There are a dozen or two kids in the same classroom for most of the day in close quarters, working together on all kinds of projects. They go to lunch together as well as classes like gym, art and music.

They've been wearing masks and schools have been doing their best to keep them socially distanced when possible, but the chances of spread have still been a great worry.

Kids then go home where mom and dad and siblings and sometimes grandparents are, and the chances of spreading COVID to them is also a great concern.

Of course, parents will have to make their own decision about whether they want their 5 to 11-year-old vaccinated, but if they do, it is nice to know that there will be opportunities for them to get their shots.

As of last Friday, places offering vaccines for this age group in the tri-county area included pharmacies at Kinney Drugs, Walgreens and Walmart, and the Essex County Health Department.

ECHD Program Coordinator Andrea Whitmarsh said more than 40 children received their first jabs at Newcomb Health Center last Wednesday and, as of last Friday, more than 80 had signed up for a clinic at Ticonderoga Elementary School.

The agency has partnered with local providers to offer additional clinics this month.

Local pediatricians or family health practitioners have volunteered to be present at the clinics to answer questions or address concerns from families and children, Whitmarsh said.

"We know that, especially for the 5 to 11 age group, there is a chance that parents or children will be hesitant, or they may wish to have that more in-depth conversation with a medical professional who best understands that population," she explained.

"The expertise and assurance from our local providers is invaluable, and is something we wanted to have readily available for our families."

Chazy Central Rural School District is also considering setting up a clinic for kids 5 to 11.

As of last Friday, 88% of Chazy Central Rural School District employees and 77% of junior-senior high school students were vaccinated against COVID-19.

Superintendent Scott Osborne said the district is hoping to get things rolling for students ages 5 to 11 by hosting a clinic next month.

Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave pediatric doses of the Pfizer COVID vaccine the green light.

"We view vaccination as one of the best ways to combat the ongoing pandemic and allow students the opportunity to continue to receive instruction in school," he told the Press-Republican.

Chazy's approach makes sense if schools want to take the next step in dwindling the number of COVID cases and lowering the chances of school having to go back to remote learning, which no one wants.

Let's hope other schools jump on board and take measures to help get elementary school-age kids vaccinated sooner rather than later.

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