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Vaccination rate in youngest age group concerns Gov. Hochul

NYS launches the #VaxtoSchool campaign to encourage people ages 12 to 17 to get vaccinated.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — During Gov. Kathy Hochul's COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday, she raised concerns about the vaccination rate in the youngest age group that's able to get vaccinated right now.

Kids who 12 to 17 years old are lagging behind all of the other age groups in the state when it comes to getting vaccinated; 50% are fully vaccinated, and the governor says that number has to go up. 

Gov. Hochul was asked why not do a vaccine mandate similar to other vaccinate mandates already in place for kids to be able to go to school.

"I hope that parents can be listening to us in terms of what they need to do which is best for their children, but I'm willing to take a look at all options on the table because if these numbers start going up again, and we have to figure out a way to contain that or else we're going to end up talking about what happens to school settings and workplaces again," Hochul said.  

"I'm not letting the state go back there again, so I will take more actions if necessary. Right now, I'm asking parents parents to do what's absolutely best for their children, and if they're between the ages of 12 and 17, get them vaccinated immediately."

County health departments are still hosting vaccination clinics all over the state, and the vaccine is free. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden is set to roll out a six-point COVID plan on Thursday.

To encourage more parents to get their children vaccinated, the state is launching its #VaxtoSchool campaign. It includes a new website with resources for parents and teachers. The state will also use social media to get out the word about pop-up vaccine clinics and buses will be used for mobile clinics.

"It's just all about prioritizing the health of our teachers, our administrators, and our children so we get that sense of security that parents will need when they say goodbye to their child and send them off to school," Hochul said. 

Also during her COVID briefing, the Governor reiterated that the biggest challenge for hospitals right now is staffing.

The state is requiring people who work in health care facilities to get vaccinated, and the deadlines are coming up soon. September 27 is the deadline for employees of hospitals and nursing homes to get vaccinated and October 7 is the deadline for people who work at home care agencies, hospices, and adult care facilities.

The Governor said during her briefing that we are going to hit a crisis level in the state with respect to staffing in health care facilities, hospitals, and nursing homes. 

"I'm trying to do what I can to work with the unions that represent the current employees. How we can find more people, how we can accommodate their concerns and their needs. I know that there's individuals who are reluctant to get the vaccine who work in these settings, and we have to realize that there's a tremendous risk involved when someone who is there to take care of people's health needs, if they too can be carrying the virus. We went through this last year, it was a real threat and sometimes it was exposure because of that, but now we have the weapon to fight back and that is a vaccine," Hochul said.