SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – The CDC officially approved of the distribution of the Pfizer vaccine to kids aged 5-11.
As of Tuesday night, 28 million children are now eligible to get vaccinated, according to Doctor Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC. Walensky urged parents to take this next step in ending the pandemic.
“I strongly encourage parents and their children to get vaccinated,” Walensky said. “And if you have any questions about the vaccine, please talk to your child’s pediatrician, a school nurse, your local pharmacist or a trusted medical professional.”
Children will be able to get the vaccine at pharmacies, school clinics, the Oncenter, and even some pediatric offices, according to County Executive Ryan McManon.
Emma Villaverde, a teaching assistant for the Syracuse Academy of Science, said several of her students were proudly showing off bandaged arms in the classroom this week.
“For them socially, like making friends and stuff, the vaccine is the perfect safety net, that will make it so much easier for them to thrive,” Villaverde said.
Villaverde is a student at Syracuse University and works for a program that bridges the gap between her college and the Syracuse city schools. She has been working as a classroom aid for the past three years, mainly in her home state of Delaware.
Villaverde is excited for a return to normalcy in the classroom environment and hopes it will happen by 2022.
“Learning environments will be a lot more calmer and efficient without the restrictions,” Villaverde said.
Many children have lost years of learning foundational knowledge due to attending class on Zoom, making it harder for them to stay on par with their peers.
“Young students have been struggling so much, the next few years it will be a challenge for them to get caught up to the same level in terms of learning the alphabet and basic math” Villaverde said. “That is one thing I really worry about.”
Villaverde works with many lower-income students and said they need the vaccine more than others.
“Especially for lower-income children or those who don’t have that good of a home situation to be in-person for learning and it’s even better to be without a mask, because it makes language learning easier,” Villaverde said.
Children are not currently among the population that is required to get the vaccine, according to New York Governor Hochul. If a certain quota is not reached though, her hands may be tied.
Central New York pharmacies, like CVS and Walgreens, are offering sign-ups for vaccine appointments for children on their websites.
County Executive McMahon is expected to release more information on vaccine rollouts for children this afternoon.