RICHMOND, Va. -- Federal Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra saluted a group of five-to-11-year-olds who rolled up their sleeves on Thursday for the COVID-19 vaccine and encouraged other parents to do the same with theirs as the vaccine is now available for that age group.
"The answer to putting this pandemic in the rearview mirror is to be vaccinated," Governor Ralph Northam said.
Among those who got the vaccine was 10-year-old Abby Avula, the daughter of State Vaccine Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula. He said that while the severe consequences of COVID-19 are rare for kids his daughter's age, they're not non-existent.
"The benefit against protecting her against those rare, severe consequences outweighs the risks for us," Dr. Avula said.
The Commonwealth reports that in the two weeks since opening up, 15% of Virginians ages five to 11 have gotten the shot, compared to 22% of 12 to 15-year-olds during the same time period.
"We expected a slower uptick of 5-to-11-year-olds," Dr. Avula said.
Avula points to national polling that had about a third of parents ready to get the vaccine right away. Another third wanted to wait and the other third had no plans to.
Anne Taydus is among that latter group and says among other concerns, she is worried about the speed at which the vaccine was developed.
"Doesn't have years and years, I mean, enough data to show me and much less my children," Taydus said.
Dr. Avula said he believes vaccination rates will increase as parents see how others fare. If coronavirus case numbers go back up, Becerra says the federal government will continue to push the message to vaccinate around the US.
"We want their child to be safe and protected," Becerra said.