RICHMOND, Va. -- As many school-aged kids soak up the final days of summer before returning to in-person class, health experts are concerned about an uptick in COVID-19 cases among young children.
Across Virginia, data from the state health department shows the number of kids under the age of 10 hospitalized with the virus has jumped from 282 in the beginning of August to 388 as of Sept. 5. That's about a 37% increase in just one month.
One young girl from Henrico is hopeful she might have an extra layer of protection before vaccine eligibility even expands into her age group.
Eight-year-old Naysa Goel considers herself a trooper after taking a jab to the arm. Like most kids her age, she's not a huge fan of needles or shots.
"I felt proud of myself," said Goel. "It was harder than I thought."
When her mother signed her up for a clinical trial through the Virginia Research Center, which tests Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine on young kids, she had no idea what to expect.
"I thought that it would feel like a regular shot, and it would be very painful," Goel explained.
She either received the actual vaccine or a placebo which looks and feels like the shot but isn't.
Her mom, Shivi Kansal, is keeping her fingers crossed that it was the real deal.
"It's a step forward because me, my husband, and my son already have a vaccine, so she's the only one," Kansal said. "So if it is the vaccine, then I'm happy that before getting to school, she will be protected."
Her optimism comes as health experts point to an alarming uptick in Coronavirus cases among young children as they head back to class. Multiple school districts in Central Virginia are already in session. The others are beginning after Labor Day.
Hopewell Schools which started July 27, has reported at least 119 cases including staff and students.
Chesterfield Schools has reported at least 304 cases since Aug. 23 when most schools began class.
Because of these trends, Kansal is hopeful other parents will eventually follow her lead.
"I'm hoping a lot of people will get their children vaccinated so that we can come to normal life soon," she said.
Goel has one wish to make getting the shot just a little easier.
"Maybe if the needle was like curvy or something," Goel said.
Goel said she didn't experience any side effects, and her family will know in about three to four months whether it was the vaccine or a placebo.
The FDA has not yet granted emergency use authorization for any of the COVID-19 vaccines for children under 12 years old. Some health officials estimate that could likely happen in the late fall or early winter.
Virginians age 12+ are eligible for COVID-19 vaccine. Pre-registration is no longer required, so go to Vaccine Finder to search for specific vaccines available near you or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-275-8343).
Have You Been Fully Vaccinated?
People are considered fully vaccinated:
- 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
- 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine
How to Protect Yourself and Others When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated
COVID-19 vaccines are effective at protecting you from getting sick. Based on what we know about COVID-19 vaccines, people who have been fully vaccinated can start to do some things that they had stopped doing because of the pandemic.
We’re still learning how vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19. After you’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should keep taking precautions—like wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces—in public places until we know more.
These recommendations can help you make decisions about daily activities after you are fully vaccinated. They are not intended for healthcare settings.