With less than a month to go in 2021, the Blue Ridge Health District has met its goal of vaccinating 35% of children ages 5 to 11 by January 2022.
The district announced the achievement in its COVID-19 update. Statewide, 23.5% of children in the 5 to 11 group have received at least one dose, according to the Virginia Department of Health.
Second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for this age group started near the end of November, and 8% already have been fully vaccinated.
Health district officials said in the update there are many children who still need to be vaccinated. The vaccination site in Seminole Square, inside a former Big Lots, is open for walk-ins, and appointments can be made at other clinics by going to vase.vdh.virginia.gov.
“All available COVID-19 vaccines are safe and highly effective against severe illness, hospitalization, and death due to COVID-19, including the Delta variant,” officials wrote. “As we’ve seen, there’s no way to predict how your child might be affected by the SARS-COV-2 virus. Even if your child doesn’t get very sick, a COVID-19 infection could still cause health problems down the road or put others at risk of contracting COVID-19.”
Vaccination rates for this age group are not equal across the health district. In Albemarle and Charlottesville, 48.5% of children 5 to 11 years old have received the first dose. Meanwhile, in Fluvanna, 22.3 % of this age group have received a first dose, 16.5% in Greene County have done so, 16.2% have in Nelson County and 13.2% have in Louisa County.
The health district is working with schools and area pediatricians to host clinics and provide easy access to the vaccine. Officials said before Thanksgiving that they would be reaching out to communities in surrounding counties and visiting neighborhoods to help boost vaccination rates.