ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Thursday, the Minnesota departments of Health and Education began a push to get teens vaccinated before school.
Data shows that kids in the 12-15 year old age group have the lowest vaccination rate of any age group in the state.READ MORE: Some Elective Surgeries On Hold As Minnesota Hospitals Face Staffing Crisis
The push comes a day after MDH announced new guidelines recommending masks for all students and staff in K-12 classes.
This push is happening now because in order to get full immunity from a Pfizer vaccine, the only one available to kids, it takes five weeks.
At Harding High School, state health officials and the president of the Minnesota chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics stressed the Delta variant is hitting kids hard.
“At Children’s Minnesota we have admitted over 450 children and youth due to COVID-19 and had over 170 patients end up in our intensive care unit with severe symptoms,” Dr. Sheldon Berkowitz said.
State figures show only 35% of kids ages 12-15 are fully vaccinated. For 16- to 17-year-olds that figure is 47%.
Anyone under 18 does need a parent’s consent to get the shot.READ MORE: Health Officials Debut New App Offering Minnesotans Quick Access To Vaccine Records
High school junior Kyaira Wilson said she is vaccinated but most of her friends are not. Wilson, when asked if her friends were opposed to them getting the vaccine said, “Oh, I don’t think so, they’re just scared, that’s all.”
Officials say they continue to try and correct misinformation.
“Let me be very clear: these vaccines are safe and effective,” Berkowitz said.
And Berkowitz said, while its true it is a new vaccine, parents should ask themselves this:
“You have to balance what are the potential risks that this vaccine may cause a problem in 10 years versus the actual risk that if you get infected now you are going to get very sick, you may end up in the hospital and you may die,” he said.
St. Paul Public Schools do not currently have a mask mandate. They do ask visitors to wear masks. School officials say they are going over all the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and the Minnesota Department of Health and expect to announce a mask policy sometime around Aug. 10.MORE NEWS: COVID In Minnesota: 2,736 New Cases, Positivity Rate Climbs To 7.1%
St. Paul Public Schools are holding free vaccine clinics at three of their schools. Any St. Paul resident 12 or over is eligible. Click here for more information.