We should follow the CDC’s latest guidelines for vaccinating ourselves as well as our children.

It is a given, when children get together someone will get sick a short time later. Children are illness magnets no matter their age.

Parents know they can’t keep their children away from other children. Even if the children are told to socially distance, we know, just by nature, they will be in close groups in a short time.

Kids like to be around their friends and other kids.

Parents work hard to make sure their children stay healthy.

One of the newest tools in their parental tool bag is getting their children aged 5 years and older vaccinated to prevent COVID-19.

Children aged 5 to 11 when vaccinated will receive one-third of the dose older children and adults receive. They will also have to get a second shot three weeks later. For now, Pfizer is the only approved vaccine for children.

Earlier this month when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved vaccinating the 5- to 11-year-old children, they made nearly 28 million children in the United States eligible for the vaccine, which was found to be 91% effective at preventing symptomatic infections in children.

This is a huge step forward in the work to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Although the virus tends to be more severe in adults, about 1.9 million kids ages 5 to 11 have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Some 8,300 have been hospitalized with about a third needing intensive care, and at least 94 deaths have been verified.

From late June to mid-August, COVID-19 hospitalizations among adolescents increased fivefold, according to the CDC.

Having more vaccinated children will also have a direct impact on schools being open for classroom learning and extracurricular activities. Experience from the last two school years shows remote learning is harder for students and teachers than classroom teaching.

Having more students vaccinated will also lessen the need to close campuses because of outbreaks, which could send students home to learn remotely again.

While COVID-19 vaccinations are not required for children, they should be a part of the regular immunization requirements for all school students. Students are required to get diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis, polio, measles/mumps/rubella, Hepatitis A and B and varicella immunizations. Adding the COVID-19 vaccine to the list would be a positive step for all children.

The process for parents to protect their children is twofold. First, parents need to be vaccinated to protect themselves and their families. Then, they need to make sure their children are vaccinated to add another layer of protection for everyone.

Wearing masks, social distancing and frequent hand washing are still important steps to take when around people. But research by the CDC shows the vaccinations are the most effective means to slow the spread of the disease.

As we enter into the cooler time of the year and into the holiday season when we tend to gather inside more often with large crowds, we need to make sure as many members of our families, including our children, are protected from the dreadfully deadly disease.

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This opinion reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate’s editorial board.

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