The governor announced 120 new pop-up vaccination sites will take place across New York over a 12-week-period as part of the #VaxtoSchool campaign to increase vaccination rates among younger New Yorkers.
"Since becoming Governor four weeks ago, I've made it clear that we need to bring children, teachers, and staff back to school safely," Governor Hochul said. "With these pop-up vaccinations sites, we are ramping up our #VaxtoSchool campaign on the road and going into communities where vaccination rates are still lagging among young New Yorkers, so we can reach as many families as possible and make our schools safer for students and staff."
While 82% of New Yorkers over age 18 have gotten at least one dose, among 12-17 year olds the rate is just 54%, despite the Pfizer shot being available since May.
"It's like putting your kids in a car on a busy highway with no seatbelt, a young inexperienced driver and saying good luck, you're out there. I'm sure you'll be fine," Hochul said.
A community-based medical professional will be available at each site to answer any questions parents and guardians may have.
Soon virtually all school-aged children will be eligible for vaccinations, after Pfizer announced its data shows their vaccine is safe and effective for children ages 5 to 11.
"I'm excited about it. If I'm a parent of a 5-year-old headed off to school, I cannot wait to get that safety, protection into my children's arm," Hochul said.
The study still has to be peer-reviewed before the FDA can it give the vaccine emergency use authorization for kids.
But Dr. Anthony Fauci said he expects that to happen by Halloween.
In Pfizer's study, young children got a dose just 1/3 of what adults get, with similar effectiveness, the company said.
"The immune response of children is more robust," said David Cornfield of Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, Stanford. "Therefore, dosing the vaccine down a bit allowed for these kids to get efficacy from an antibody perspective."
"Masking is one level of protection, and the vaccine is a whole different level of protection," said Mount Sinai's Dr. Waleed Javaid. "It really takes us to almost elimination of COVID."
Meantime, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that schools will be returning to weekly COVID testing for unvaccinated students instead of biweekly.
And those unvaccinated students who come in close contact with someone who tests positive will no longer have to quarantine.
It's a way to keep more kids in class. But it's controversial.
ALSO READ: Weekly COVID testing to resume in NYC schools next Monday
Some parents are relieved to not have to abruptly take off work because their child's class was forced to go remote.
But the teachers union is officially opposed to relaxing quarantine rules.
"We strongly disagree with the mayor's plan to limit the quarantine process only to some children rather than an entire classroom," said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.
He added that it is unrealistic to think all kids have their masks on at all times and are keeping their distance.
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