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Baltimore officials urge parents to get kids vaccinated

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Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott says vaccinating kids will keep them in the classroom. Credit: Sarah Y. Kim/WYPR

The Baltimore City Health Department will offer Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 to 11 starting the week of Nov. 8.

Mayor Brandon Scott said at a news conference Thursday there is no time to waste.

“With school in full swing, and the upcoming holidays, now is the time for children to get the COVID vaccine,” Scott said.

City health commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa said next week’s sites include schools, mobile clinics, Access Art and the NAACP national headquarters.

“We will continue to focus our efforts on vaccinating children and families in our low vaccination coverage neighborhoods,” she said.

Dzirasa added that the department is working with city schools to build trust in the vaccine among students. The goal, she said, is to get about 80% of children vaccinated by the next school year.

“We know that schools can often be that trusted messenger,” she said. We've educated teachers and staff in schools so that they can also begin to have those conversations.”

Dzirasa said 5 to 11 year olds do not need appointments at any of the city clinics, but they should be prepared to wait in line and be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

She also said the city is not ready to lift its indoor mask mandate, noting that Baltimore still has “substantial” transmission rates according to the CDC. Other factors city officials will consider before lifting the mask mandate include deaths, positivity, hospitalizations and the vaccination rate.