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Parents are on the fence about vaccinating children for school

Posted at 12:03 PM, Apr 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-15 12:03:22-04

CHESTERFIELD, Va. -- With COVID-19 vaccine trials proving to work well in adolescents aged 12 through 15, parents may soon have the option to get their children vaccinated.

Many parents are still skeptical over letting their children get the vaccine, while others said they don't want to take any chances of their children catching the virus or spreading it if they return to in-person school in the fall.

The decision to possibly vaccinate students comes after Pfizer announced last month that the trials they've run on about 22,000 kids aged 12 to 15, have shown a 100% effective rate against COVID-19.

Health leaders said this is because younger children have better immune systems, and react to vaccines better than adults.

As a result, some school districts are discussing plans on what school will look like this fall, including Chesterfield County.

The Chesterfield County School Board met Wednesday to present a possible plan for the 2021-22 school year.

Leaders said there will not be an option to learn virtually and in-person. Students must choose one or the other for the year.

Students in middle school and elementary school will have the choice to attend in-person or virtual synchronous learning through their new virtual learning academy.

Middle school and high school students will have the choice to attend in-person or virtual asynchronous learning. This means that those students will have more flexibility in their schedules.

School leaders stressed the importance of returning to the classroom to help address academic gaps caused by the pandemic.

However, not all parents are on board with the plan.

Dominic Chatters has three children who are at the elementary level in Chesterfield. She believes that the school district should keep things how they were before with the option of in-person or virtual learning.

Chatters also noted if her children must go back to in-person learning, she would have them get the vaccine.

"When one does become available, we would be interested in looking into that and making sure that our children were put on the list to be able to receive one, just to be cautious," Chatters said. "I'm not a fan of playing the odds, you know. So the return to school in the fall, I'm not a fan of the way that plan has been laid out for Chesterfield County."

"I have two gifted children. And if I opted for virtual, they would not be able to get their gifted services, which therefore means they'd be put behind their peers who would be able to physically go in the building," Chatters added.

Chesterfield schools have not decided on a final return to school plan just yet.

Meanwhile, Henrico County Public Schools have a plan in place for students to return to school this fall for in-person learning five days a week.

One Henrico parent said they aren't ready just yet for their children to get the vaccine if it becomes available.

"We, of course, will make the best decisions we can for our family and next fall may be the first time that she goes back in-person, but that may change if there's a requirement of the vaccine, because I'm just not completely sold on it yet," Nadasha Fludd said.

Because of these breakthroughs in the Pfizer trials, Dr. Micheal Martin, President of Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, believes that Virginia and other states could allow those as young as 12 to get the vaccine by the fall at least, or before school starts -- but studies will have to continue before that happens.

Virginia will allow everyone 16 years and older to get vaccinated on April 18. No official word has been made on when and if those younger than 16, will be allowed to get the vaccine.