RICHMOND, Va. -- Vaccine uptake among kids older than age 11 is three times higher than among those ages 5-11.
Some parents said they are worried about how it might affect their small children, but a local pediatrician said the vaccine is safe for kids.
"I'm vaccinated myself, but I have no idea how it affects children," parent Kayla Williams said.
"The rest of the adults in our family, we have gotten vaccinated, but for him, it's just scary," parent Dawn Cross said.
Even with COVID cases soaring in Central Virginia, these moms just are not one hundred percent comfortable with their young kids getting a COVID vaccine.
"I was worried about how she would be able to handle it if there were going to be any side effects for her," Williams said.
"He has non-verbal autism, and we're just on the fence right now whether to get him vaccinated or not, especially with the side effects, especially with the long-term side effects nobody knows anything," Cross said.
The moms are not alone.
Numbers from the Virginia Department of Health show the percentage of children fully vaccinated in three different age groups.
The 5 to 11-year-olds have the lowest rate of vaccination by far, with just 21% fully vaccinated.
Doctor Tiffany Kimbrough with the Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU has some idea of why that might be.
"Parents with young kids are hearing that kids are mostly doing well, understanding the importance for vaccinating that age group has been one of the things that pediatricians like myself are really trying to hammer home," Kimbrough said.
Doctor Kimbrough said she understands parents' hesitations, but she believes the vaccine is safe for children ages 5-11.
"We have been now vaccinating millions of kids to date, and we aren't seeing large-scale issues, the myocarditis rate is very low in this age group, not even higher than what we would expect in general population," Kimbrough said.
"Being able to get pregnant is another thing parents tell me they are worried about, especially for their young girls, we aren't seeing any issues related to pregnancy or to fetal losses for pregnant people who get vaccinated."
She had her six-year-old vaccinated, and she hopes other parents will do the same.
'We do see kids mostly do well but some kids don't, and we don't always have good predictors on who those kids are so healthy kids can end up in the hospital and with complications from covid so it's really important we vaccinate this age group, and it will also help prevent community spread as well," Kimbrough said.
Here is a list of upcoming vaccination events that includes clinics for children ages 5-11.