Doctors urge parents to get vaccinated as kids under 12 not eligible for COVID-19 vaccine head back

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Students go back to school in just a few weeks, but kids under 12 still can’t get he COVID-19 vaccine.

All this, as the highly contagious Delta variant wreaks havoc on local communities.

Epidemiologist Chad Nielsen at UF Health says parents can protect their unvaccinated kids by being vaccinated themselves, and making sure their kids mask up.

”I have a four-year-old daughter, she’s actually in summer camp this week I asked her to wear a mask, but it’s hard on kids,” Nielsen said.

Nielsen says the best thing parents can do is lead by example.

”We want to try and model good behavior whether it’s our own kids or others,” he said.

That means masking up and keeping your distance from others, Nielsen says.

He says about half of Florida isn’t vaccinated, while 49 percent of people in Duval and Nassau counties have the shot, and 61 percent in St. Johns County.

”You don’t see very many masks, so the statistics there don’t lie. People who are unvaccinated are going around not wearing masks, and that’s not what we want to see,” Nielsen added, saying that doctors are asking even vaccinated people to model good behavior, which means masking up and social distancing.

On Friday Wolfson Children’s Hospital told Action News Jax 9 children were currently hospitalized for COVID-19; by Monday that number had risen to 10.

On Monday the American Academy of Pediatrics shared recommendations that masks should be worn in schools for everybody over the age of two, whether they’ve been vaccinated or not.